Fix Coffee opened at the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Baxter Street nearly three years ago much to the delight of Elysian Heights residents who long yearned for a neighborhood place to sip coffee while tapping away at their laptops. Now, Marc Galluci, the owner of the stylish cafe that sports a bright orange awning, wants to start serving dinner and pouring beer and wine in addition to cappuccinos. That proposal has generated a lot of support among Fix customers and nearby residents who want a cafe they can walk to for an evening meal and drink. Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition in support of Fix’s application for a beer and wine license. But the prospect of beer and wine flowing in the Elysian Heights section of Echo Park has also upset many neighbors who fear it will bring the noise, trash and crime associated with other establishments that sell beer and alcohol.
Longtime neighborhood activist Susan Borden, who lives a short walk from Fix, has emerged as a leading opponent to Galluci’s effort to obtain a beer and wine permit. In an email to neighbors, Borden says:
This is the first step in turning our neighborhood from a residential one into a commercial one. When he moved in three years ago Marc Galucci (FIX owner) could see that this is a residential not a commercial neighborhood. He wants to change it. All along Echo Park Avenue businesses will try to get alcohol licenses and bring the club-goers up from Sunset. Some people will enjoy that—they are [usually] the ones who are not adjacent to the businesses and don’t have to deal with the noise and trash. Most of us like the non-commercial nature of our canyon.
I understand that Susan is worried about the neighborhood changing but my feeling, and the feeling of hundreds (even thousands as we now have almost 2000 signatures on our Petition in favor of us serving wine and beer) is that this will be a tremendously positive thing for the neighborhood and for the Echo Park community. I am sincerely trying to be empathetic to our neighbors but unfortunately, as you know, you can’t make everyone happy but I will always continue to try.
Galluci will be hosting a 7 p.m. meeting at Fix on Wednesday, April 27 to discuss his plans and answer neighbors questions. Click on the link below to read a full version of Borden email to neighbors and Galluci’s response.
Email from Susan Borden
To My Elysian Heights Neighbors:
FIX Coffee’s owner wants a license to serve Beer and Wine. The owner (Marc Gallucci) is holding a meeting for the community at FIX on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. My husband and I live … around the block from FIX. It’s nice to have a place to stop in for a cup of coffee. It’s appropriate to the neighborhood. However, I am against this alcohol license for several reasons.
- Commercialization of our neighborhood
- Too close to school
- Too far from other late night activities-will draw them into residential area
- Open too late
- “Club” atmosphere
- Parking problems
- Truck deliveries
Loud groups of people noisily leaving a restaurant at night after a few drinks, often shouting to each other, are what we can expect, according to people in Echo Park who also live near trendy, late night places that sell beer and wine. More trash and graffiti usually show up as well. After 8:00 p.m. this intersection (Baxter and Echo Park Ave.) shuts up for the night. It is residential, peaceful and quiet, close to Elysian Park. We often see coyotes and wild animals on the street.
Until you get down to Montana, almost to Sunset Blvd., nothing is open past 8:00 p.m. and only residents and their visitors have a reason to drive up into the hills. With the place open until 11:00 at night we can expect much more traffic and plenty of noise, especially at closing time. The noise of FIX customers would completely change our nights, especially if customers use the outside patio area.
Elysian Heights School
Do we really want yet more beer and wine being sold right next to our elementary school? On the other side of Elysian Heights elementary school the first business that students pass as they leave school is a windowless market whose front wall reads “Beer and Wine” in huge letters. Isn’t it a much better lesson if they see adults enjoying drinking coffee rather than alcohol in public? Any alcohol should be drunk inside the building only.
Commercializing a residential neighborhood
This is the first step in turning our neighborhood from a residential one into a commercial one. When he moved in three years ago Marc Galucci (FIX owner) could see that this is a residential not a commercial neighborhood. He wants to change it. All along Echo Park Avenue businesses will try to get alcohol licenses and bring the club-goers up from Sunset. Some people will enjoy that—they are usally the ones who are not adjacent to the businesses and don’t have to deal with the noise and trash. Most of us like the non-commercial nature of our canyon.
Customers will not just be neighbors on foot. To make it a success, FIX will have to entice people to drive here, most likely from Sunset Boulevard. The largest group of people in Echo Park in the evenings are the club patrons. Let’s not give the rowdies a reason to drive up Echo Park Avenue at night. The trendy, club atmosphere is better suited to Sunset Boulevard than Elysian Heights.
Adding even more vehicles travelling to FIX will really have an adverse impact on residents. Parking is already so tight that Elysian Heights Elementary staff park their cars on the school’s front lawn and the red curb. Few homes have off-street parking; when residents drive home at night they need the street parking. The intersection is heavily travelled by school buses, the elementary school staff and parents dropping off students, as well as the pre-school parents. The school has to have staff directing parents where to drop kids off, as the streets are so narrow. This intersection is in a canyon with hillside streets that have restricted parking as they are so steep.
Beer and wine must be delivered. This intersection is very narrow and already congested. I have seen trucks double-parked at 10:30 a.m. making deliveries to FIX so that traffic has to wait. How many more trucks will be coming, how late will they arrive and where will they park? Trucks should be required to unload only inside FIX’s lot.
If you share my concerns, please call Councilman Eric Garcetti (213-473-7013, firstname.lastname@example.org) and/or his planning deputy, Katherine Hennigan (213-473-7013, Katherine.Hennigan@lacity.org ).
Response by Marc Galluci, Fix Coffee owner
On Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 at 7:00 at FIX COFFEE we will be holding a Town Hall meeting for the neighborhood. The intent of the meeting will provide a forum for people to express their opinions. Although we will answer the questions we know for certain we can indeed answer at the present time with certainty, we will not have firm responses to all issues raised until we”ve had a chance to listen to what people say at that time. We will present the following basic information at that time:
- Addition of Full Dinner Service
- Wine and beer application
- Additional Bathroom and Kitchen / Food Prep area
- Currently allowed Hours of Operation of 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, daily
- Parking is provided at FIX as per Code
- Staff shall be properly trained as per the requirements of the Office of the Zoning Administrator
With specific regards to Susan’s note, I took time to face to face, one on one with Susan about a week ago, prior to her sending this note. I explained in detail to her about our plans as noted above including our later hours, addition of dinner service, hand selected wines and artisan beers, etc and she chose to only focus on the alcohol aspect of our plans. I understand that Susan is worried about the neighborhood changing but my feeling, and the feeling of hundreds (even thousands as we now have almost 2000 signatures on our Petition in favor of us serving wine and beer) is that this will be a tremendously positive thing for the neighborhood and for the Echo Park community.
I am sincerely trying to be empathetic to our neighbors but unfortunately, as you know, you can’t make everyone happy but I will always continue to try.