Why wouldn’t Echo Park welcome the renovation of a long-shuttered eyesore, the creation of new jobs and a fun new place to eat, drink and hang out? Many Echo Park residents, however, are not rolling out the welcome mat for a 216-seat restaurant that businessman Tony Yanow is now building inside the former Studio One theater. They worry about the additional traffic and noise and a shortage of parking the Sunset Boulevard restaurant and other nearby projects will bring to their corner of the neighborhood. They have not been shy about their objections to Yanow’s restaurant – which The Eastsider wrote about in January – and other nearby developments. They have organized like-minded resident, launched a new blog, Echo Park Life, and lined up opposition to Yanow’ liquor license.
The strong opposition has caught Yanow off guard. The former Internet entrepreneur claims some residents are misrepresenting information about his restaurant, which is going to require almost all of his life savings to open early next year. He said his restaurant will provide more than enough parking – through a valet service – and has been designed to minimize noise:
The building that I am renovating requires a huge amount of upgrading to meet current building codes and requirements. I am making a tremendous investment to fix it up, but also keep its charm and character. Gone are the heaps of trash, rats, and falling down bricks that were there just weeks ago. The newly revamped building will be in keeping with the vibe and ethic of Echo Park and its residents. It’ll be an unpretentious and fun place that the whole family can enjoy.”
Yanow’s Click on the link below to read the rest of Yanow’s defense of his restaurant:
First of all the, restaurant (still unnamed) is set to open around the first of the year. It is being built in the old dilapidated eyesore that was once a beautiful theater, but was left to rot unoccupied for about 20 years. Certainly the residents prefer to have a business of some sort there over a broken down building. An attractive local spot increases property values, a dump decreases them. A nice place inhibits crime and undesirable elements, uninhabited buildings foster them.
The building is about 400 feet from one of California’s busiest intersections, Sunset and Alvarado. This area was designated as an “enterprise zone” long ago to promote commerce in the area. Sadly, many businesses have failed or moved leaving plenty of vacancies on this once thriving block.
The building that I am renovating requires a huge amount of upgrading to meet current building codes and requirements. I am making a tremendous investment to fix it up, but also keep its charm and character. Gone are the heaps of trash, rats, and falling down bricks that were there just weeks ago. The newly revamped building will be in keeping with the vibe and ethic of Echo Park and its residents. It’ll be an unpretentious and fun place that the whole family can enjoy.
Some of the misinformation that is swirling includes:
Parking: I am doing 3 things to mitigate concerns about parking and I have one suggestion for the local residents. First, I have secured ample parking. In fact I have dozens more spots than the city is requiring me to have. They will be valet only, for just $3.00 which is a tiny amount to pay even for a drive in parking lot. Any business that goes into this space, a movie theater, retail store, cabaret, whatever is going to need parking. Second, I am installing bike racks to encourage people to use non motorized transportation. I did the same in Burbank and we attract a ton of cyclists. Third, a sign will be posted out front asking patrons to please not park in the neighborhood streets and to please keep voice down when leaving after 9PM.
I have spoken to many residents who say the parking problem is already an issue with or without new businesses. this problem was here before me and it will be here whether this business goes in or not. I totally understand this problem and I would not want to have trouble parking in front of my house either. A solution that is easy and inexpensive and works all over Los Angeles is ‘resident only’ parking placards. I used live in an area that required them and it solved all of our parking issues.
Noise: Most of this building’s floor is below grade. There are no windows or doors except those on Sunset. The current building has holes in the roof and a big opening in the back. All of the holes are being professionally closed. All noise will stay within the well insulated building (roof well insulated, being below grade is the best insulation I can think of) or go out onto Sunset where street noise will drown it out. This is a very busy stretch of Sunset, complete with a fire station. Residents should not be concerned about noise affecting their homes.
Smoke: This is an absolute joke. The Brick oven being installed is the same one used by California Pizza Kitchen and many other flame oven kitchens that you see all over LA. It will be vented to code and installed professionally. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to be concerned about smoke.
Being close to schools and libraries: This is a restaurant. I am the father of a 7 year old girl and this is a place that I am excited about bringer her to. It’s not a biker bar, a stripper club, a rock and roll venue, or anything else. It’s a restaurant that serves farm fresh California meals grown and raised by local farmers and served with high quality beer wine and spirits if patrons so desire. We will from time to time have live music, but this is for the enjoyment of our patrons. We are not permitted to sell tickets to any performance or charge a cover. I volunteered that stipulation for our Conditional Use Permit. Music is not a big part of our business plan, it is just a nice thing to add on. I am not in the music business and I don’t want to be in the music business.
There are a bunch of other nitpicks and negativites that have been written on http://echoparklife.wordpress.com/, but I don’t want to give them any credence as most readers can see right through the motives of the writer and the total lopsided view that she brings. As you know from meeting me, I speak to residents, I have been to several NC meetings and various other neighborhood gatherings. I have had nothing but positive feedback until this blog was created to damage the progress and name of the business. I really want to be embraced by the community and I have shown my commitment in many ways, not the least of which is investing most of my life’s savings I have into an unproven retail area.
In Burbank, I recently took over an old eyesore of a bar and made it into a thriving little neighborhood pub, with thoughtful food, incredible beer and wines exclusively from California, bike racks, dog beds outside etc. This is a place that most locals would have never entered and now it is bright and fun. I have never had any conflicts with my neighbors and in fact the mayor of Burbank has even written me a recommendation letter because she is so impressed with how my business has been conducted.