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Monday, December 22, 2014

Car Crash, ADA Lawsuit & Missing Stickers: Echo Park pizza parlor struggles to reopen

Otilia Schweitzer (rt) and brother Saul Palacios ready to cook again at Pizza Buona.

Otilia Schweitzer sat in the empty dining room of her Echo Park pizza parlor, Pizza Buona,  on Wednesday afternoon looking dazed and tired. A building inspector had been by earlier for what was supposed to have been the final inspection before the corner restaurant could reopen nine months after a car crashed into the dining room. That crash coincided with the filing of a lawsuit over the restaurant’s  lack of a restroom accessible to people with disabilities and was followed by other snafus and delays, leaving Pizza Buona closed and many customers wondering if they would ever once again savor a freshly made garlic bread stick or a Pizza Rustica.

Everything seemed to be going well during Wednesday’s final inspection except for one thing.  The restaurant was missing window “stickers,” Schweitzer said.

The stickers Schweitzer was referring to are those blue decals with a wheelchair icon that must be posted at the entrance to let visitors know the space is complaint with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Schweitzer and her family then went into a form of sticker shock when they could not find ADA-compliant decals – which must include Braille markings – nearby and had to order them online. The inspector left, saying to call  him back to find out if he could let them open with out the decals, Schweitzer said.

Schweitzer said it would only take her family a day to get the parlor back in business once they passed inspection. “Everything is ready,” said Schweitzer of the newly  re-panneled and re-floored dining room and a newly constructed, ADA-compliant restroom.

In fact, repairing the damage to the dining room overlooking Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Street was a relatively easy fix. The new restroom, however, was another matter.   After the restroom and short hallway were completed, inspectors determined that there was insufficient clearance  when the restroom door swung open, Schweitzer said.  That forced the family to buy and install an electric-powered door, which triggered another round of construction and inspections.

“It’s a tragedy,” Schweitzer said. “We have been closed sine August.”

Schweitzer said she and her family are ready to return to the restaurant. She said she hopes customers will do the same. “I hope we get business.”



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46 comments

  1. Pizza Buona is the best! I can’t wait to send some business back their way as soon as they reopen.

    • hear hear! Love that cheeeese!

    • I second that!

      Was in Echo Park area the other night and drove by to get a pie and wondered what was going on. Saw the place dark. I’m glad to know they are not out of business and look forward to having another one of their pies soon!

  2. I will be there for the eggplant meatball pizza. It is the best!! I’m sorry for all your troubles!

  3. Yeah! Open up soon! Need a Pizza Buona fix !!!!!!!! It’s been way too long.!

  4. This is just another example of the City’s lack of pro-business mentality. Many restaurants due to pre-existing conditions, prior to the ADA Act have waivers….

    This is really unfortunate this family has been victimized by the roving “disability bandit” wh targets small businesses that don’t have the ability to fight this, and get a waiver.

    Can’t wait to start ordering garlic breadsticks again!

    Here’s to Pizza Buona!
    cp

    • So true! I wonder if this is the same person who filed suit against Yolk and Lake in Silverlake for not being wheelchair accessible.

    • I’m guessing that they previously had some sort of ADA waiver, but when they pulled permits to rebuild after the car crash, maybe then they were forced to meet the ADA’s requirements. I’ve had to deal with the Department of Building and Safety, and it can be an awful experience – fees on top of fees, long waits, and conflicting advice from the plan checkers.

    • Maybe this so called “Disability Bandit” is actually in a wheelchair and was unable to use the restroom at Pizza Buona, but would like to enjoy garlic sticks and eggplant meatball pizza just like everyone else?

      Maybe it’s because the ADA legislation is not just about cripplying small businesses but ensuring equal freedoms for all citizens.

      Maybe.

      • Hey ADA, the problem right now is that NOBODY gets to enjoy Pizza Buona. Closing it down over this doesn’t solve anything. I am all for making it wheelchair-accessible but they could have easily applied some common sense solutions to get that result without shutting the place down.

        For example: why not give them a deadline, and say they have to make the improvements in the next six months or else they get closed down? That way they can stay open while they wait for the decals etc., the renovations get done, and everybody wins. There is a way to accomplish these things without hurting small businesses.

      • This is total Bulls#$t! Shame on the city for not allowing a business and that’s already been already financially devastated because of a friggin sign. Are you kidding me. Way to go city of L.A.

  5. My family cannot wait to get back and support our beloved Pizza Buona!!

  6. eastsider! please let us know as soon as pizza buona re opens. my husband and i have been longing for the pepperoni pizza for months! we drive by and call the answering machine for any updates at least once a week. i know there must be many others waiting for our local favorite to start serving delicious pizza again. can’t wait!

  7. My husband and I can not wait for our favorite pizza place to reopen! We will be there that day in full support!

  8. love pizza buona. let them open, already!

  9. OMG! I am so glad to hear that they are going to be opening soon.. My family has been going to Pizza Bouna for over 35 years. We are very excited to hear that they will be up and running.. Man we sure miss our regular weekly spot.

  10. Rusticccccccaaaa!!!!

  11. Disabled people need to learn to take a dump BEFORE they go out to eat. PSHHH! No worries Pizza Buona. Im there when you reopen. Getting a little tired of Garage.

  12. Best restaurant in LA! And I’m not even kidding. Love you, Buona! My friends and I are all waiting for the day you re-open. If it’s 10 minutes or 10 years, I’ll be there!

  13. While the last few years have seen a number of pizza places open nearby (Garage [great], Two Boots [good], L.A. Pizza [meh] and Lil Caesar’s [barf] – and let’s not forget Masa [better Chicago-style than Chicago, if you are into that]), I still find Pizza Buona to be the best and I have sorely missed them. I hope that this sticker issue is the last obstacle and I can finally get some yummy pizza from them real soon.

  14. Thank you for the update, Eastsider. I was worried they were not going to be re-opening.

  15. Love Pizza Buona…we’ll rally if that’s what it takes!

  16. My best to these folks getting a good working over. The ADA has cost businesses untold billions for very little benefit overall, typical zero-common-sense BS that does far more harm than good. When they open I’m tossing them even more biz than I used to (which was a lot), my own personal reparations for our insane society.

  17. “Masa [better Chicago-style than Chicago, if you are into that]” – The most offensive statement in the history of the Eastsider.

    Either you’ve never been to Chicago, or your mouth is just ruined.

  18. I tried both and Folliero’s in Highland Park is much better, but of course we are talking about 2 different neighborhood…

    • I agree completely! I live in Echo Park & drive to Folliero’s on a regular basis, even when Pizza Buona was open. Folliero’s has an incredible crust, from what I hear it is hand made every day by the owner, an older Italian gentleman who won’t give the recipe to anyone else, except he put it in his will to go to his kids!

  19. Wow, over an ADA sticker? Yikes..Can’t wait to have ya back!

    WE LOVE PIZZA BUONA!
    WE LOVE PIZZA BUONA!

  20. Seriously? How hard would it have been for the inspector to let them open anyway and return in a week to see that they put the sticker up? The worst that could happen is someone disabled doesn’t see the sticker and chooses not to give them business based on thinking they don’t have adequate facilities.

  21. Miss you pizza Buona!

  22. I may be mistaken, but wasn’t this called Pizza Bozza during the mid 60’s?

  23. Yeah , it will always be PIZZA BOZZA to us long time residents ,The recipes haven’t changed only the owners did .
    Love it ……….

  24. Glad to hear they’re reopening! People talk about the pizza, but the sandwiches are what keep me coming back– best fresh-baked roll in the city, delicious filling. In our wonderful embarrassment of eastside sandwich riches (Philippe’s, Eastside Market, Lanza Bros., Eagle Rock Italian Bakery etc.), Pizza Buona’s Italian sub stands out.

  25. Great news. Can’t wait. It was Pizza Bozza back in the day when it was operated by the Bozza family. Have been going there since the 1950’s. They’re now ADA compliant and up to code; so they should be around for a long time.

  26. “Schweitzer and her family then went into a form of sticker shock when they could not find ADA-compliant decals – which must include Braille markings – nearby and had to order them online. ”

    That line alone almost makes me want to be a libertarian. Almost.

  27. Great news! I’ve been fiending for a Chicken Parm sandwich!

  28. I just hope the person whole filed the ADA against Pizza Bouna is proud of what they did and I hope to see that person patronize the business when they do re-open. I hope that person is reading these comments. They have put a small (family) business out of commission for almost a year now. I wish the person who crashed their car into the front entrace was held liable for all of the repairs and upgrades due to their wreckless driving. Luckily nobody was killed. And I would think that the City Inspector had a stash of ADA stickers on hand. I cannot wait until they open up again. They are one of the rare small businesses aside from TAIX and Barragans who have managed to remain open during this awful economy.

  29. These people are the victims of an inspector who doesn’t know his or her ADA/Title 24 standards. The International Symbol of Accessibility (wheelchair “sticker”) does not, and never has, required any braille, raised characters, or any other text with it. This can be clearly checked in both the California building code, as well as the technical assistance materials available through the U.S. Access Board. Their web site is http://www.access-board.gov/

    It is this kind of ignorance that gives both the ADA and persons with disabilities a bad name — and yet it is not their fault. It is the fault of ignorance of building officials as well as designers and contractors. I would have shown that inspector chapter and verse! Our firm not includes my services, a nationally respected consultant on the topic, and member of the American National Standards Institute A117.1 Committee on accessible and usable buildings and facilities, but a California Certified Access Specialist (CASp).

    Sharon Toji
    Access Communications

  30. There’s an interesting, informative, and fair (despite the name) radio segment from This American Life on ADA compliance and enforcement.

    Crybabies, Act 3 — “The Squeaky Wheelchair Gets the Grease”

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/415/crybabies?act=3

  31. Is it possible for them to offer carry out only?

  32. I am so happy to hear that they are back in business is not fair, what this person is doing. If he is really protecting the rights for ADA, then he should donate all that money from the lawsuit he has been opening against these business, he has been doing this for a while, it is unfair, he is doing just for his own benefit.

  33. Pizza Buona reopens tomorrow, Friday December 7th!

  34. What a bad coincidence. Nine months is too long to wait. Unless, the family who owns it has another source of income, it would be so difficult for them to get back up. We are just hoping that they would be back sooner so that we can taste the goodness of the flavors sooner too.

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