Neighbors Favor/Oppose French Restaurant's Liquor Permit Request

Community can still weigh in on issue by emailing Associate Planner Maya Zaitzevsky at Maya.Zaitzevsky@LaCity.Org

A city of Los Angeles associate planner on Wednesday afternoon listened to Highland Park residents make arguments both for and against chef James Graham's application to secure a conditional use permit to sell beer and wine with food until 2 a.m. at the he hopes to open on York Boulevard and Ave. 51 early next fall.

After listening to both sides for about an hour, Associate Planer Maya Zaitzevsky said she was taking the matter under advisement, and would issue a decision within one week.

Community can still weigh in on issue by emailing Associate Planner Maya Zaitzevsky at Maya.Zaitzevsky@LaCity.Org

Arguments Opposed

Among the arguments Zaitzevsky will be considering are those of neighborhood residents like Tyson Smith, who argued that with six establishments in the neighborhood licensed to sell alcohol, including local bars The York and , the neighborhood was being overrun by late night revelers.

Smith said he was not opposed to Graham's effort to open an upscale restaurant in the neighborhood, but the urged the planning department to deny his request to serve beer and wine past 11 p.m. 

After the meeting, Smith told Patch that "there were a lot of great things happening on York Boulevard, but selling beer and wine at night wasn't one of them."

Many of the approximately half dozen community members who spoke against Graham's application expressed a similar sentiment, saying that while they would love to see a nice restaurant come to the neighborhood, they didn't like the idea of it being allowed to serve alcohol late into the night.

One resident presented a petition containing 137 signatures of residents who opposed the conditional use permit.

Arguments in Favor

There were also several community members and local officials who spoke in favor of Graham's application, including local resident Kevin Bone. 

"I'm excited about this restaurant for many reasons," he said. "I don't see this restaurant as being a stopping place for those who would commit crimes. I think it would be a pretty well-behaved crowd." 

Tricia Robbins, a field deputy for Councilman José Huizar's office, submitted letters from both the councilman's office as well as from the Los Angeles Police Department which stated support for Graham's application.

"In dealing with this particular issue, this owner has been very good in doing all the homework related to this project," Robbins said of Graham. "The Los Angeles Police Department is also in favor of this restaurant.

According to Graham, LAPD's support is actually conditional, as it suggests that the restaurant be allowed to stay open only until midnight on weekends for a period of a few months to prove it could be a good neighbor.

In making the case for his application, Graham stated that there seemed to be some misunderstanding as to what kind of restaurant he planned to operate.

"I do feel like people have not understood or have not heard that alcohol will only be served with food," Graham said. "If I'm allowed to serve a full menu until 1 a.m., I'll do that."

Graham, who said he lives about 900 feet away from the restaurant, said he has no interest in contributing to the bad behavior attributed to the neighborhood's bars.

"There are problems in the neighborhood, but they're getting better," Graham said. "I feel like I can be a part of making them better."

Where do you stand on this issue? You can weigh in on our Facebook poll.

sweatywest July 06, 2011 at 11:36 PM
If Graham was opening a dance club or something, these people might have a more valid point. But we're talking about a 'rustic french restaurant'. The targeted clientele of BA has to be taken into consideration.
HackOfAllTrades July 07, 2011 at 12:02 AM
I am continually amazed by the large number of haters and old folks who are super resistant to ANY changes on York or Colorado or Figueroa. I guess they like the good old days when there wasn't a destination for anything in this area. Where is the capitalism to go with the conservative? Do we want to kill any attempt made by small businesses? Would this be happening if it was another Starbucks or CVS? Do you prefer Taco Bell to Taco Trucks? Why do you all FEAR change? You would prefer another vacant storefront?
Nimby pimp July 07, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Please make sure to send an email in support of Mr. Graham's application to maya.zaitzevsky@lacity.org
Haley July 07, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Why would any one in that area want to discourage any kind of business there? A little night life with good people having some wine with their French food would brighten the area immensely. Really? You prefer hooded thugs with spray cans? I know theyre quiet and every thing but it seems like the wrong choice. Graham has my support.
Jane T July 07, 2011 at 06:41 AM
a little more foot traffic at odd hours means a safer street. York Blvd has come a long way in the last five years, and an establishment selling quality food (accompanied by drinks) into the wee hours can only be a good thing for the neighborhood. looking forward to being able to walk down the block late at night without fear.
Cathi Milligan July 07, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Most evenings I get to eat dinner after 10pm. Sometimes a bit later. I will then find myself in Silverlake at a coffee shop. To have the option to eat fine food later in the evening, less than half a block from my own business on York warms my heart. I believe the dissenters on this issue are misguided by their desire to stifle growth and change that is happening in our neighborhood. The clientele that will be eating here are not the same individuals that throw weekly parties in a parking lot or drink until they can't see straight. Perhaps those opposed to this should actually do some homework and speak to the owner of the restaurant. They'll find out that he is a good man that wants to help the neighborhood, not hurt it.
El Cid July 07, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Valid points have been made by many expressed in this article. I personally would not be directly impacted by the a "chic" French restaurant coming into HP. I welcome change in our community as long as change is for the betterment of HP. For some HP has been home just a few years; but for some of us "old timers" HP has always been our home and we recognized early on the beauty of the area. It's important to agree to disagree and most importantly to compromise as HP continues to grow and change for the better! I wish Mr. Graham the best and I sincerely hope a compromise will bring forth a resolution to meet most of everyone's concerns.
HackOfAllTrades July 07, 2011 at 06:57 PM
I'd personally like to see some of the "Old Timers" and their old school business ethics "compromise" a bit for the betterment of HP. At least it's not another gray market auto repair with used tires stacked 10 feet high and engine blocks sitting on the sidewalk leaking toxic fluids into the storm drains. I cant believe we are talking about the scourge of a restaurant selling a few cases of beer occasionally. It's not a Bar. I think the city and the neighborhood has it totally backwards in terms of what really needs to be regulated and what seriously is the least of our worries.
Me July 07, 2011 at 07:30 PM
I have lived directly behind the considered restaurant for over 35 years. I have met Mr. Graham and completely support his endeavor. It's Great change for our community and will only better the neighborhood. Remember, we still have numerous bars and clubs in the vicinity inluding a liquor store. Why complain about Mr. Graham serving wine and beer with food when the other establishments ONLY serve alcohol. I live close enough to hear a glass drop in this future restaurant and if there is anyone to complain it's me. Guess what? I'm not complaining. I'm Completely for it.
KingSlav July 07, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Does Rosario also support pulling the liquor license of Liquor Azteca De Oro?
Mitzi July 08, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Do you mean that we might actually get to have a nice French Restaurant in the neighborhood? Somewhere to go where we don't have to get on the freeway to have a good meal? I can't even believe this is even under debate. So they have a liquor license...there are a lot of restaurants all over the world with liquor licenses so that their patrons can have a cocktail or a bottle of wine with their meal. Are they havens for drunken debauchery? I think not. I can't even believe this issue is even being debated.
Nimby pimp July 08, 2011 at 02:29 AM
It is bewildering indeed that the resentment of a few underemployed malcontents could hinder this welcomed change. Fortunately, there are many locals who agree with you and who have sent emails in support of Mr. Graham's project of the LA City associate planner who will decide on this matter. Please join us.
Tyson July 08, 2011 at 02:49 AM
"underemployed malcontents". Well, I guess we know what you think of the 137 people within the 500' impact radius that signed a petition for reconsideration of the late night liquor license. Just a "few" lazy jerks, apparently. Nothing like a little ad hominem attack to take the civil out of a discussion.
Nimby pimp July 08, 2011 at 02:55 AM
Just having a little fun on a warm summer evening Tyson. No hard feelings.
cate July 08, 2011 at 03:07 AM
i would love to have a nice, new restaurant that i could walk to. however, i would also like to be peacefully sleeping at night, uninterrupted by people walking to their cars which are parked in front of my house. if mr. graham is open until 2 am, serving an abridged menu, he will be operating a bar that happens to serve food. you would go there to nurse yourself sober from the other drinking establishments on york that serve late into the next morning. the french aspect is just a sugar-coating to convince people who don't live in the direct vicinity that this is a good thing. i don't think ba needs to be open until 2, and neither do my neighbors.
G July 09, 2011 at 05:56 PM
The objections to this project seem to be driven mostly by self interest. The qualms of these individuals are valid. But there are other and greater issues at stake that move far beyond the personal. There are already laws in place to help curtail the very things that the naysayers are reporting. There is an active and involved police force to enforce those laws. Just recently the Northeast Division reported a drop of 30% in violent crime in the area. Obviously the officers are engaged and capable to insure the safety of the citizens. I think most of the issues of the naysayers can be controlled by the application of the law enforcement agencies. Maybe that is why the Northeast division is somewhat in agreement with the project moving forward. I would lead that ANY of us reading this story would concede that HiPark is in sore need of this type of development. To put a caveat of this type is just not good community development. If we are not proactive in this project, then developers will just turn a sore eye to HiPark and locate in Eagle Rock or Atwater. I have been a resident of the HiPark/Mt. Washington area for FOUR decades. For three of those decades this has been a desire for many. What has been happening in the York area over the last several years is the positive manifestation of dreams of multitudes and I suggest that the small numbers of those who disagree will most likely be passed over by the democratic process in place that will look out for the greater good.
El Cid July 09, 2011 at 06:25 PM
KingSlav writes: 1:11pm on Thursday, July 7, 2011 "Does Rosario also support pulling the liquor license of Liquor Azteca De Oro?" Why would I either support or oppose this question you ask? As I previous stated, change for the betterment of HP is welcomed by me. And, I too would enjoy a new restaurant to visit in my community that I have called home for almost 50 years. I merely suggested that compromise may be needed to satisfy community concerns. So Slav - Does that answer your question? At NO time did I express opposition to Mr. Graham's petition for a liquor license! In fact, I wished him well with this proposed project. Now, if you have concerns regarding Liquor Azteca De Oro, I suggest you contact your Councilman.
Nimby pimp July 09, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Agreed G. Please make sure to email the city planner mentioned above. She needs to hear from you and others on this issue. You can also email Ana Cubas at Jose Huizar's office on this matter.
Philip Coultas July 11, 2011 at 06:45 AM
I live in Glendale, but I seem to end up in Highland Park at least once a week. Looking at Ba's menu it is hardly the kind of place that will lead to drunken revelries, and it is hard to not have wine as an option for French cuisine. If it can bring outside money into Highland Park and improve the reputation of the neighborhood isn't that a good thing?
Mika Lucille Mcdonald July 11, 2011 at 06:56 AM
I, for one am SO excited at the idea of having an upscale place to go to late at night with my friends and husband. We are like many folks in the nearby area who have jobs which star late in the day and end late at night. We still want to socialize and have a nice night out. Lately, it seems we afford a nice night out AND a babysitter and many of our friends are in the same boat, so we trade nights "sitting" with the kids but too often what happens is no place is open!! We are SO excited at the idea of having an upscale place to relax and enjoy fine foods while spending adult time socializing with our friends (who often don't get off work until 10 pm!) !!! I am NOT a "party" girl. I am a 41 year old housewife and mother of a 4 year old who drives a mini van.... I just want a place where I can go with my family and friends, where they get MY lifestyle in the modern world of Los Angeles!!!! Please, don't kill the idea of an adult metropolitan, upscale foodie joint just because you are afraid of some "crazy party people" that is NOT who this place would be for. It's for folks who just wanna have fun in the 24/7 lifestyle we live in today. (Plus, shows about yummy snacks and wine on food network @ 12:00am just really make me want yummy snacks and wine at...12:00am! And I want a place where that can happen!!!!!!)
Philip Coultas July 11, 2011 at 07:03 AM
P.S. A relatively short menu is often a sign of an upscale restaurant. If you have a short menu you can better focus on the quality of the items that you prepare. It hardly means that it is a bar that happens to serve food. If you look at the menu you can readily see that it is aiming for quality.
Linda Graveline July 11, 2011 at 06:24 PM
I'm sure the bars would love it if all of their customers would be quiet/peaceful when they left. In bars, it's a party and it gets loud. We thank the gods every day we have a former roadie (who can sleep through anything) living in our front room, facing The York/Johnny's and dread the day we have to look for a replacement who can handle the amount of noise he endures from the bars, sirens and building-shaking motorcycles. I feel your pain, people. We're talking about fine French cuisine (usually served with good wine/alchohol) which attracts mature adults who wouldn't conceive of getting rowdy. I don't foresee THAT many people ordering French cuisine at 1am though, maybe in NYC. If the wine/beer that makes it more financially viable, great, maybe start by cutting alcohol off at 12am and gauge from there. Regardless, the more you raise the level of the restaurants, stores, services, etc. here, the more sophisticated and mature people are attracted to the area. You can see it on Art Walk nights. Some of them have this stuff called money they use to buy things so these new businesses thrive rather than having countless dead storefronts. I experienced the same shift on Southport in Chicago, then in NYC when a famous hotel opened next door. At first it feels scary - we don't want any trouble. Resist. But I really think it'll lift the area UP, just as, say Platform and Schodorf's have. Add more good.
Lili July 11, 2011 at 07:54 PM
CHECK IT OUT: http://www.restaurantba.com/menu/ WOW. Sounds wonderful.
pascale July 12, 2011 at 12:02 AM
We are a french couple working in the restaurant business and who used to live in HP! We are so excited about the opening of that restaurant!!! The idea that we would have an upscale place to hang out after work is "Magnifique... "But eating a Cassoulet or a Boeuf Bourguignon without wine is unthinkable!! Come on Messieurs, give it a try and you'll see, people who love food and alcohol are not the trouble makers you are affraid of. It would be so great to have such a place opened late to go to after work.
Tyson July 12, 2011 at 02:46 AM
Nobody is killing any idea, the restaurant can totally go in. I sometimes wonder whether anyone bothers to read why we oppose the "late night" portion of the liquor license. First, adding upscale diners doesn't magically exclude drunken booze hounds, it just adds more people in an area with no parking. People will still block driveways and talk loudly in front of people's homes at 2am, now there will just be less room for all of them. The public parking lots still close at 9pm. The problem of late night traffic just gets worse. This problem has never been addressed by Mr. Graham. He has been really good about garnering support from people not directly impacted by his proposal, as well as getting them to attend hearings, but he has never talked to the neighbors about their concerns. Simply put, more people late at night in the area aren't welcome given the state of weekend traffic and crime (vehicle break-ins are way up!). Even the LAPD suggested reduced hours as a "probationary" period, as Mr. Graham put it, in the public hearing. Nobody is objecting to alcohol, just late alcohol. Lastly, there is nothing wrong with attempting to improve one's neighborhood with responsible growth. There is a point when this neighborhood could become a pee-stinking party zone or a cool arts district with great food and entertainment options, like NELA art walk. It's up to residents to say and do what we can to help make it be the better neighborhood, and that's really all we're doing.
Gaylord Hill July 12, 2011 at 04:11 AM
Just a response to Tydons newest remarks. Again, Tyson, I feel ya, but a not if reason needs to be struck. Ivan one REALLY project that a rustic French restaurant is going to SWELL the ranks of late mute party revelers who will per in the streets. C'mon Tyson. Get real! Do you really think the restaurant will attract great numbers of people after midnite"! I dont know---just sounds like a lot of over reaction to me. Putting a late nite McDonalds would breed MUCH more negativity!!
Gaylord Hill July 12, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Wow, sorry about the phone generated typos!!
Jason July 12, 2011 at 06:19 AM
Tyson, I could understand if you were talking about another bar on York Street, but this is not a bar. I just don't see how a french cuisine restaurant could produce a "pee-stinking party zone", that type of characterization just sounds alarmist. I would suggest saving your argument for another time.
ChickenBoyFan July 16, 2011 at 02:28 AM
I just sent my letter of support to Maya at city planning. I hope you will too. Let's just hope BA doesn't do the Camillo's shuffle and move to Eagle Rock. I really missed them when they left. C'est la vie
G July 16, 2011 at 07:44 PM
My previous post had numersous typos. It was supposed t read:: Just a response to Tydons newest remarks. Again, Tyson, I feel ya, but a note of reason needs to be struck. How can one REALLY project that a rustic French restaurant is going to SWELL the ranks of late nite party revelers who will "pee in the streets". C'mon Tyson. Get real! Do you really think the restaurant will attract great numbers of people after midnite!"I dont know---just sounds like a lot of over reaction to me. Putting a late nite McDonalds would breed MUCH more traffic and potentially attract more of the crowd that you suggest!! Using your logic, a drive thru fast food establishment would be contrary to the community!!


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