A burst of wind, a stroke of luck and a lot of hard work and collaboration result in a stunning monopitch structure above an L.A. hotspot.
Sometimes, it’s all about being at the right place at the right time. For Walberto “Pana” Vasquez, owner of The Tent Co., a Houston, Texas-based tent manufacturer, the right place was the tented rooftop bar of E.P. & L.P., a trendy South Asian restaurant in the heart of West Hollywood, Calif. The right time was a vacation more than two years ago.
“I’m having drinks with my friends and just having a good time on the rooftop,” he says. “Out of nowhere a gust of wind comes and starts blowing the frame tent back and forth. They had these tubes that were attached to the bottom of the sidewall, and they’re bouncing back and forth, almost hitting some of the customers. At the same time, a patio heater starts burning one of the sidewalls, so everyone starts freaking out.”
Like a superhero leaping into action, Vasquez went into “tent mode,” taking down and securing what he could on his own and making the situation as safe as possible under the circumstances.
Once the crisis had subsided, the restaurant provided his group with drinks and dinner, and one of the owners was more than a little curious about the customer who had come to the rescue while everyone else panicked.
“The exact words he used were, ‘Who the hell are you and why are you here?’” Vasquez says.
One thing led to another, and a week later, Vasquez was making another trip to Los Angeles to meet with the restaurant owners to discuss a better rooftop solution.
The restaurant wanted a shelter that would be in place from mid-November through the end of March. Space was at a premium, as the restaurant—which offers stunning views of the Hollywood Hills and the Sunset Strip—wanted to use every available square inch for customers. And permitting was going to be a challenge due to both the weight of the structure on a multistory building and, naturally, the need to meet a 115-mph wind load.
“After going through several concepts, I felt like the monopitch style would be the best look for their bar,” Vasquez says.
The project took nearly two years and involved collaboration between manufacturers, engineers, welders, installers, inspectors and the client.
“The biggest issue was how to anchor the tent because they basically had a wood platform on the deck and it wasn’t strong enough to hold concrete ballast,” Vasquez says. The solution was to anchor the tent to steel beams underneath the building.
“There wasn’t any way to anchor without getting the steel involved, so once we got the steel beams, we created more than enough support and weight distribution.”
The Tent Co. manufactured the vinyl components and sourced the frame from Shelter Structures America. Duran Tent Specialists LLC of Los Angeles assisted with the early January installation.
“[Shelter Structures] was more than fantastic with us,” he says. “Delivery, quality, customer service—they were superb.”
The structure came down in late March, but the base plates remain so that it can be reinstalled in November. Given the high-value location, the project has helped to raise the profile of The Tent Co., and Vasquez hopes that the attention will lead to similar work in L.A. and beyond.
“David Combes, who is one of the owners, was very cooperative with me,” Vasquez says. “He allowed me to be creative with this tent, so a lot of credit goes to him and their group because they allowed this freedom to create something special for them.”