To understand The Grove, the 575,000-square-foot shopping Xanadu in central Los Angeles, let its owner, Rick Caruso, introduce you to its neighbor, the iconic Farmers Market. He takes you to a butcher stall where, some 80 years ago, Caruso’s father was sweeping the floor. Next he points to a pizza stand founded by Patsy D’Amore, who baked L.A.’s first pie in 1939. “I grew up on his knee,” he says. Dapper in a custom suit and red-and-black-striped tie, Caruso weaves his way through the chaos, frequently stopping to ask merchants, “How’s business?”
It’s the same question Caruso asks of his own tenants, who have put this 59-year-old real estate developer on The Forbes 400 at No. 179. While the Farmers Market is gritty and authentic, The Grove is the pinnacle of artificial grandeur, where every detail matters. The copper garbage-can lids are polished. If a child drops an ice cream cone, a security guard will swiftly appear with a fresh scoop. Male employees must wear ties unless the temperature tops 85 degrees. Caruso obsesses over the positioning of trees, which arrive on his properties fully grown. A practicing Catholic, he begins planning for Christmas a year in advance and started his own Santa staffing business because the agency options didn’t meet his north of the North Pole standards.
Click to read more on www.forbes.com