New restaurant and market planned for former Echo Park discount store


Storefront ReportECHO PARK — Gareth Kantner, owner of Cafe Stella in Silver Lake, is moving ahead with plans to open a big restaurant in a former Sunset Boulevard discount store. But the 5,000-square-foot space will not only have a restaurant. It will also contain a market as well, according to city records.

It’s been nearly three years since Kantner purchased the former E-Pack store building on Sunset near Echo Park Avenue. A year later he opened Dinette, a small, take-out sandwich shop and cafe in part of the property. But the main building remained untouched.

Now, in a filing with the Planning Commission, Kantner is seeking city permission to serve alcohol as part of a new full-service restaurant and also sell beer and wine to go from a new market on the site.

Kantner also wants an exception from zoning codes that would require him to provide 19 off-street parking spaces. Instead, he only wants to provide three spaces.

Three years ago, Kantner said the restaurant, which would be named Libre, would include indoor and outdoor dining spaces and a menu of grilled meats, vegetable dishes, salads and oven-baked pizzas. Is that what he still has in mind? Stay tuned.

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  1. Glad we have someone with good taste opening a restaurant/bar in the area. The large number of empty storefronts are an eyesore!

  2. James Patrick Kelly

    So he wants to put in a restaurant but doesn’t want to provide parking? How does this help the neighborhood? If he wants a restaurant (and I see no reason why not), then provide the damn parking. I’ve stopped going to whole neighborhoods to conduct business because parking is so wretched. Nice little neighborhood you’ve got there, it would be a shame if anything happened to it….

    • Big parking lots right behind the building.

    • Seriously you should try walking.

    • It’s not like he has a giant parking lot and just doesn’t want to use it. There is not enough parking for that building.
      Like most buildings that were built last century, there is a lot less parking spaces than the city requires for any planning change. . That stretch is super walkable. You should try it.

      • “It’s not like he has a giant parking lot and just doesn’t want to use it. ” you mean like Peter Shire? Those Yogala folks are forced to park on the street while a HUGE (Donald Trump imitation) parking lot stands empty next door?

    • I assume you mean bike parking.

  3. James Patrick Kelly

    I wrote this to the planning commission: zimas@lacity.org

    I’m a local resident and I’ve seen plans for a new restaurant on Sunset Blvd that as applied for a variance to get out of providing parking. Please deny it.

    Parking is essential to conducting business in Los Angeles and even if his restaurant provides valet parking (taking up residential spaces unfairly), other nearby businesses would be denied customers.

    I have no objection to a new business but see no reason to penalize the entire neighborhood to accommodate it.

    Jim Kelly

    • people need to stop driving, this will be a neighborhood spot that you can easily walk to. also there is a giant parking lot behind the building. stop giving cars priority over people.

      • Not all people are able bodied, As we age we develop physical problems. I for one can no longer ride a bike, have a hard time keeping the yard immaculate like I used to. SHAME ON YOU FOR THINKING EVERYONE IS LIKE YOU!

        • You may be misinterpreting Andrew’s message. By “people need to stop driving” I believe he meant “more people, when possible, should use alternatives to driving” and not “EVERYONE should stop driving completely.”

        • shame on you for being closed minded, there are plenty of ways to get around besides a car if you are handicapped, also there are plenty of handicapped spots in the PARKING LOT BEHIND THE BUILDING

    • I’m confused. If this business was forced to add parking, where would it go? (Serious question, by the way.)

      It’s not like this is a new build on a big plot of land where the owner could shave off square footage here and there for more parking .

      As noted, there are city lots behind the building.

      • Same here. How do you just magically provide parking spaces out of thin air?

        • I think the business would simply not open, and the place would remain empty.

        • You don’t build out more parking; that’s cost prohibitive and usually just impossible. You have to “find” parking, usually by offering valet parking and striking a deal with a nearby parking lot. I’m split on this issue because I understand the frustrations of the neighborhood when a strip gets really popular (like the area near Los Globos), but it’s also a huge burden on restaurant owners who may simply choose not to develop certain spaces because the cost of meeting city requirements is too high. That’s good for no one.

    • Dear Jim,

      Please take your entitled, suburban attitude back to Orange County where it belongs.

      Echo Park

    • I bet the people who are complaining about parking, have their garage filled with junk-meaning they are taking up a parking space on the street!

    • I fully support this project. Lucky for me, dumbass Jim Kelly above is sending his email to the wrong address.

      The central area planning commission email is APCCENTRAL@lacity.org. I’m emailing them to offer my support as a local resident and landlord.

    • Time to move to Arizona Jim. The absolute last thing echo park needs is more parking.

      The great thing about Arizona is that all the Applebees are equipped with plenty of parking! You’ll love it

    • Requesting for permit parking only in your neighborhood so that businesses don’t take up residential spaces would be more productive. It would encourage non-locals to take ride share or public transportation and locals to walk.

  4. Where would this parking come from? Isn’t there plenty of parking in the lots behind the place?

  5. You may be right, but just pointing out that there’s a bus stop directly in front of the space and a paid city lot right behind it. If ever there were a good case for a parking variance… This would be it.

    • Yes the bus stop. Because people who will be eating $30 steaks at this new restaurant are going to be arriving by the MTA. Right. Uh huh.

      • I know plenty of people who would spend $30 on a steak and ride the MTA, or walk, or bike. Thinking this is not the case is a bit outdated and snobby. This is the city we should be aiming for———great neighborhood spots that encourage people to walk or use public transportation. Businesses such as this will encourage the local community to stay in the area to spend their money. As mentioned above, there is already adequate parking very close to this restaurant and if ever there was a case to waive the parking requirement, this is it. I welcome the new spot, even without encouraging more cars and congestion to the neighborhood.

      • Srslynw , how old are you? Serious question.

        This is really a generational thing. I’m over 40 and grew up in LA, so I understand the mindset…how could it be that an affluent person could ride a bike or take the bus? Us older folks can’t imagine it…If you don’t drive, it means you are poor.

        The world has changed. You may not know affluent young people who don’t drive, but believe me they are out there. Go to some apartment rental open houses…you’ll see tons of them. No car, paying $2500/mo for an 800sf apartment.

        • This is accurate and well said. Even usually-perceptive observers of LA can get this very wrong if they are above a certain age. I read LA Observed, for instance, and its editor continues to make offhand dismissive remarks about the impossibility of using cycling for transportation.

        • Walking in L.A, only a nobody walks in L.A…
          Missing Persons

        • I am in my 40s too and grew up in the heart of Echo Park. My parents still reside there. And while everyone thinks that all these hipsters use public transportation, there is a large population that do not. The two houses on both sides of my parent’s home are being rented for close to $4,000 a month. In order to pay the rent many people reside together. One house has a long driveway with 4 cars stacked in it while they take up 4 more parking spots on the street with other cars. It’s ridiculous that so many cars belong to one residence. They sometimes block my father’s driveway when they come home late at night and there is no parking. They have no regard for people like my parents who have been loyal true Echo Park residents through thick and thin for 48 years. I guess they thought my parents were renters and they could annoy them enough to move…SURPRISE, they own they’re home, and all cars blocking their driveway are towed because they didnt think my patents deserved respect on their own property. My parents have seen the neighborhood turn many times. If things get rough again or these youngsters decide to start families, they won’t stick around because they won’t send their kids to the neighborhood schools, but for now the call themselves true loyal residents of Echo Park while many refuse to assimilate with the minority residents who can’t afford rents anymore or refuse to pay thousands for an ugly shoe box looking apartment that now stands in the place where a beautiful home with character once stood. While I embrace change and believe in the betterment of the community, one can’t assume that prior to all this gentrification every resident was a gang member or poverty stricken resident.

      • I literally use that bus stop 10 times a week and I regularly spend more than $30 per dish at a restaurant. I work in engineering and take home a comfortable salary. I have no car and I enjoy exploring my city outside the limitations of a car. There’s probably 100 restaurants on Sunset from Downtown to Hollywood that are far pricier with less parking.

        You should embrace the new LA

      • I eat $30 steaks – and I ride the bus! (Though not at the same time).

  6. More yuppie garbage yay

  7. Bruce Brook Pfeiffer

    You would think Echo Park residents would be bending over backward for Mr. Kantner and positively screaming from the hill tops demanding that the city waive its one size fits all parking requirements for him.

    Kantner was one of only three pioneers that completely transformed Silver Lake and in doing so created likely something in the billions in increased property values for the residents of Silver Lake.

    Do people in Echo Park actually like the graffiti, trash strewn streets, empty store fronts and the depressed residential property values that come with those ills?

    • And your opinion of the lack of support for this is based on what? A few negative comments here?

      This is Echo Park 2016 not 1976.

    • I think you misspelled “Kantner made Silver Lake seem safe for rich white people like me.” The very real issue of empty store fronts in Echo Park is due to the owners jacking the rent up to the point that all the unique businesses had to close up. It’s draining the vibrancy out of the neighborhood and it sucks. Buddy, I only WISH that the residential property values were depressed! I don’t know who’s paying $700k for 500 sq ft cottage “starter homes” but it’s no one I know. As for a parking variance, I could care less and certainly won’t be begging the city on the Café Stella guy’s behalf anytime soon.

  8. Requiring parking makes no sense. There is a huge pay lot right behind the building. as well as another pay lot mere feet away in the next block over.

    This guy will end up investing a couple of million dollars in this restaurant when all is said and done, and it will create permanent full and part time jobs, fill a vacant storefront and provide an amenity that many people want — a place to eat.

    Get rid of the parking requirement and let the dude build this restaurant.

  9. For a thirty-dollar steak I would expect that they will be valet-parking my car across the street– in the Walgreen’s parking lot… with whom they should have hopefully made a deal (and it’s well-lit and maybe even patrolled)

  10. Yum! Can’t wait to try it. I’ll ride my bike there or walk!

  11. What could possibly open in a commercial space that would not need parking? It appears the only solution is to demolish the building and replace it with a parking lot or force all the empty storefronts on Sunset to remain empty. Give the man his permit, eat and be merry.

  12. Regardless of how many nays, the guy will get his way. We have a BOUGHT AND SOLD COUNCILMAN IN MITCH O’Farrell.

  13. The new generation moving into LA is the same in SF, they want to walk to places, not use cars. And they will be the pioneers making LA a livable and beautiful city. New flash to baby boomers… Why do you think you’re all dying off as soon as you hit 60 or 70 years old? Because you spent your whole life sitting in traffic in a crappy car and breathing in car smog and exhaust. The new generation will live twice, maybe three times as long because they walk everywhere. Someday LA will be car free… I can keep dreaming for now.

    • One second, Monty. Are you saying that milennials are going to live to be 120-180 years old because they take the bus? I’ve seen buses pass Fountain, but I didn’t realize they were delivering people to the fountain of youth!

  14. Oh, good grief……The place has served the community in a manner of retail variations, WITH NO PARKING, for decades. Why now, will the need change? A nearly empty City Lot behind the building, a generation of “shared economy” fleets of Lyft and Uber circling the area.

    A number of Cafes, (Sage, Ostrich Farm, Masa, Xoia, Senor Fish) to name a few, all manage to exist without magically creating parking~instead availing themselves of the City Lots and transportation alternatives/foot, bike, ride share, the occasional car.

    We need to “grow up”, or at minimum, drag ourselves into the 21st century as a City.


  15. There goes the neighborhood.

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