“I never saw myself as the kind of guy who would just enjoy having a conversation with anyone across the bar,” mused Rush Street co-owner Ken Kaufman, “but it turns out I am.” As Culver City’s most notably hospitable restaurateaur, Kaufman has turned his second career into a boon for the whole community. As a film producer, he said “I was never the kind of guy to spend a lot of time shmoozing. It amuses me that now, that’s a lot of what I do.” For the third year in row, Rush Street’s anniversary has been a fundraiser for the Culver-Palms YMCA to the advantage of the restaurant and the institution. Together with his partner Brian McKeaney, Kaufman has hosted a room that has become a landmark in the downtown district in just three years.
“We have such a great community here, and there’s so much that the Y has to offer,” said Chad Maender, the operations executive of the Y, ” it’s ideal to have the support of the business community in all of this.” Pointing out that the Culver-Palms Y has been in a pattern of increasing growth for years, Maender stated “Our membership in 2005 was over 700, and now it’s over 1500, so we have more than doubled in the last five years. That’s a lot of growth for a facility like this.” He was quick to point out that “there’s still room for more. We have a lot to offer.” With the newly remodeled and upgraded gym and the always popular pool (and of course those wonderful yoga classes,) the Y is the health club destination for many families in Culver City.
Yet the CPY is in another moment of challenging transition. After being merged with the Westchester Y last year, there is now one administration overseeing both facilities. The new Executive Director Karen Follett has had just six weeks at the desk and has suddenly lost a number of key staff members. Several of these outstanding program facilitators left, choosing to work for the previous executive director of the CPY, Darlene Kiyan, at another company. Kiyan left the Y when the merger with Westchester left the CPY without a directorship. Follett is now the third person to take on the task in slightly more than a year. With membership continuing to grow, the CPY needs to be able to keep it’s stamina up. Perhaps a course in strength training?
One great way to prove community strength was by filling up Rush Street with friends and family, chamber of commerce members, city council members, and plenty of Y staffers. Another mark of a very successful fundraiser is when it takes more than 10 minutes to walk from one end of the room to the other. When the bagpipers began their march up the stairs, the room quieted for a moment, and then went right back to the loud, relaxed chatter that is the soundtrack of Rush Street. With a percentage of the evening’s receipts going to the CPY, we can be hopeful that next year, we’ll all be there to do it again.