Will blue paint and vines win over Silver Lake wall critics?

Rendering of Cafe Stella wall after remodeling is compete. Courtesy Cafe Stella

Wall under way. Photo by Bob Warpehoski

Silver Lake restaurant owner Gareth Kantner is scheduled to appear at a community meeting tonight to respond to criticism – and graffiti – that has been directed at a wall he is building in front of an expansion of his Cafe Stella at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn.   This morning, Cafe Stella emailed The Eastsider the rendering (pictured at top) of what the approximately six-foot-high, cinder block wall will look like after it has been completed and landscaped (click on the bottom link for the same wall painted a different color).  Will blue paint, vines and wooden doors win over the wall critics?   Stay tuned.

The wall will be discussed during the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s Governmental Affairs Committee meeting at 5:30 p.m.  at Russian Orthodox Church Meeting Hall, 650 Micheltorena St.

Wall painted red to match the building. Courtesy Cafe Stella


  1. Or is that Corral-of-Opressiongate?

  2. Why do ppl care about this wall? it’s going to be tear down once construction is done, right?

    Shouldn’t we talking about what new restaurant is replacing the ol’ Eat Well space? Does anyone know? Am I missing something here?

  3. Nice attempt, but it’s still a wall. At least put some windows in it!

  4. You’re missing something here.

  5. Looks better than cinder block but it still blocks most of the original sidewalk and ruins visibility around that corner… all due respect, why would you want to face the butt of the building to the very edge of the property line with all that foot traffic? It just doesn’t make any sense. Why not face the entrance of the restaurant to the street, It seems like you could draw in much more business that way instead of secluding the entry from the street.

  6. NO, it will be no more acceptable. Who ever would suggest so has no idea of the plan for a commercial strip of stores — it is all about pedestrians walking along and seeing in the shop windows, being attracted there by the shop windows — but this one now has no window, just an overwhelming cinder block wall! It is in conflict with the street and the other shops, and will only hurt its neighbors. Imagine if all the stores decided to do this! Just because this one is merely the first doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

    The plan and codes and rules for this strip of stores was correct in the first place — it should not have been arbitrarily changed just because this clown comes along and wants to do so. He is spoiling the street experience for EVERYONE.

    We clearly have people at the Neighborhood Council and at the city making planning and design decisions when they have no understanding of planning and design — they have no idea what they are doing! They should leave their posts and let someone who knows what they are doing take over.

  7. they are going to cover the cool brick facade with some crappy blue stucco. this just keeps getting worse. who is making these decisions? find me at figaro bistro!!

  8. People get so upset over everything! If you don’t like it then don’t go there.

  9. As a fellow renderer-slave, I’d say that rendering looks a tad compromised. I feel like the wall juts out a bit more than that.

    • I don’t think so. The first photo (of how it’s going to look) shows the curbs in both directions. The second (of the wall as it is now) does NOT show the sidewalk all the way to the curb, though, if you are looking quickly, you might see the shadow running down the sidewalk on the right side of photo as the curb. But it is not. I’m giving the owner the benefit of the doubt on this one.

  10. Kantner – keep fighting. obviously since ZERO people showed up to your meeting you had yesterday to show them the amazing plans, nobody really cares, they just like to bitch. There’s a lot of Silver Lakers who cant wait for the new and improved Cafe Stella.

  11. Y’all should take all that energy and be more pissed at the assholes who illegally cut down 40 trees in Elysian Park this morning. Now that’s something to be pissed about.


    • It’s not actually IN Elysian Park -judging from the map they show. It is right off Allessandro Way, that stretch of ‘frontage’ road running along the 2 freeway. Am I incorrect?
      Otherwise, until I saw the map I was VERY pissed.

      That said, I hope they plan plenty of parking for the proposed 15 units since Allessandro itself has become quite the parking lot itself in recent years.

    • No, it is NOT in the park. It is in the Heights — Elysian Heights. That is a residential section of the Echo Park neighborhood. This lot is right next to the 2 Freeway. And they had a tree-cutting permit.

      • Ah, we are both correct about the location. And here is another interesting comment from the post itself, for everyone else following this:

        “Diane E February 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm
        How did this happen? According to the Property Activity Report , today, on the B&S website for 2055 ELMORAN, the developer mangaged to get building permits for 2 of the 14 homes: “FOR MODEL HONE ONLY, THE FINAL BUILDING PERMIT SHALL BE UNDER SEPARATE SUPPLEMENTAL PERMIT” on 1-11-12.

        However, a check of their grading and retaining wall permits indicate none have been secured.

        I’m not sure how you can get a building permit to build in a hillside area without a grading permit. It sounds like they need to show something to investors to appear to be moving forward so they got the “model home” permitted, which is not a final building permit, and used that to show Public Works/Urban Forestry that they’d been granted building permits.

        Lesson – if the community isn’t prepared with an extremely detailed written order of how things should happen and the City Council office isn’t willing to pay attention an ensure those details get written into every approval, you are screwed. Or, be prepared to hire an attorney from Day 1.”

      • Sounds like they got their tree-cutting permit illegally — or through dishonesty.

  12. Oh, if only there was a public forum at which citizens could express their concerns before such plans receive approval!

    Oh right, there are such public meetings, but none of the people who are ranting here bothered to show up.

  13. For those of us who don’t live in the future, the meeting is tonight:

    Come and share your thoughts!

    • The meeting to issue the permits already happened. Tonight’s meeting is to discuss what the counsel reviewed in making their determination.

  14. @matswaltin. I thought the same thing. You can’t tell too easily since the pics aren’t exactly the same, but I counted the sidewalk ‘bricks’ and the sidewalk along Sunset is definitely more encroached upon in real life.
    But yeah, this is why we need to attend neighborhood council meetings… democracy is only as strong as it citizens.

    • You couldn’t have counted all the bricks since the second photo (of tagged grey wall) does not show the entire sidewalk. Look again and you’ll see what I mean. It (second photo) is not showing the area all the way to the curbs.

  15. After a few years everyone will get used to it. It’s a hot topic now partially because it’s new.

  16. Get over it people, it is just a wall, has a permit, and does not take any sidewalk, It is located on the property of the business. So much crying for nothing! Get a life people!

  17. The rendered wall has been definitely warped and scaled down from the real life version. In the rendering, the door to the building is visible and accessible – not so in real life.

    Agree with everyone who believes the cafe experience should be visible from the street a la Figaro. And many a bistro as well. This solid brick wall is some major fug and no amount of ivy or greenery softens the lack of aesthetic or appropriate scale, design-wise.

    Also. I have never been a fan of the Stella staff. Ever. Which is sad because I love me some bistro food but will not dine at Stella based on one horrible experience after another. Such attitude. It should be noted I am quite the forgiving sort, not one to hate on something for the sake of hating. Nope.

    But they really should heed all the commentary with regards to this wall and attempt to be more community oriented if they plan to stick around.

  18. Freaking hell, people…I really don’t get the uproar. It’s his property, not yours. You’re upset about losing a bit of sidewalk?? Really??? Go over to the Patch and watch the video if the rendering isn’t working for you. I wouldn’t want to look at El Pollo Loco either, if I had a choice. Try to dial back the vitriol and get his perspective. Then get back to whatever you’re supposed to be doing. And no, I don’t know Gareth, but I do trust his aesthetic judgment based on what he’s done over the years with Stella. I look forward to checking it out when it’s completed.

  19. If anyone thinks bougainvillea beautify a sidewalk, they should walk a block or two west on Sunset to see how foul they can make an area look.

  20. Mr. Kantner deserves some slack in light of all he has done for Silverlake. And graffiti is just unacceptable.

  21. Red, blue . . . I can’t make up my mind. And I’m supposed to be working.

  22. People need to focus on the blight and crime in the area. What about all the potholes? Come on people, this is a free country, isn’t it? If I build a wall at my house and have permits, should I care what you think about it? Too many cry babies with nothing better to do but complain. Buy his property from him if you want to do it your way.

    • 1) Most people here are invested in preventing crime. We pay tax dollars for our police to do so.

      2) Nobody cares what you do you your house. This wall, however, offends hundreds of people on a daily basis.

      3) Obviously Mr. Kantner has the right to build a wall on his own property. You have the right to support that. And we have the right to talk trash about it. Yay, we’re all exercising our rights!

      • BTW…I really don’t like the way it looks but spraying graffiti…you might as well be a gang banger (not you specifically!) There are so many other things that need this type of attention and energy! I only saw 3 comments on the trees but look at this…

      • Can I please get a list of the names of the hundreds of people that are offended by this wall on a daily basis?

        Second, can we give the wall an award, cause that’s one hell of offensivity. I feel like other walls need to step up their game and public ridicule is the best strategy.

  23. It doesn’t even take up sidewalk space, the width is the same all around the whole block. I think the cry babies are hipsters from outta town, go back home if you can’t stand the wall. Lol.

    • There is NO other wall anywhere along the street! Such is generally not allowed. It is planned and supposed to be all storefront windows. Had he build that type of structure there, with a storefront window or otherwise open, no one would be complaining. It is because it is a solid and tall wall that people are complaining. That is a serious blight on the area, and also will only serve to hurt the other neighborhood stores as it makes people that much less likely to even want to go walk down that street.

      The solid wall would be more appropriate to an industrial area, not here.

      • there are plenty of walls that go right up to the sidewalk around there: the place that was a bio-diesel car lot, the bar next to the laundromat, the Pablo loves place….

  24. Re: The Stella Morning Meeting – with little more than 12 hours notice and an unverified post, is it surprising no one showed? Not to mention there was a public meeting scheduled at the Russian church before his post. Dude is prob gonna get the wall regardless, so for PR purposes, I don’t understand why he didn’t say something like… ‘I’ll be at the neighborhood council meeting, but people with concerns are free to stop by Stella and talk with me over coffee.’ I’m not gonna write him off over two Internet posts, but it’s not the right way to handle it so far.

    In terms of private property, ownership is not carte blanche. There are zoning laws, safety requirements for commercial properties. This idea that private property gives total dominion is just not what the rules are. Whether or not the wall conforms to the B&S codes, so close to the sidewalk, no one seems able to answer definitively. But this argument that essentially, it’s his property, whatever, he can do what he wants, is being used to quiet a legitimate question: does the wall conform to codes?

    The aesthetic of the wall is a red herring, and people should stop carping about what the wall is or isn’t gonna look like. Dude has a right to his wall, beautiful or ugly, if it conforms with zoning requirements etc. The real issue is the possible fencing of what was seemingly (but maybe not) common space.

    This seems to be a common problem recently, the privatization of what was seemingly public space, and the effects of private building on the public at large. The term community stakeholders is lefty nonsense, but no one wants to live in a neighborhood with a bunch of shitty condos, Del Tacos, Pollo Locos. Boards of Architectural review can be asinine and ridiculous, but they help establish/maintain community standards and protect both the public and builders from this sort of nonsense. Given this, and the Allesandro tree debacle, maybe we could use something closer to that.

    • I totally agree in terms of not wanting to “live in a neighborhood with a bunch of shitty condos, del tacos, pollo locos.” The last time I said that on these boards, somebody called me a racist.

        • Folk song, seeking lyrics, per Peter Paul and Mary, Joni, Pete Seeger, etc:

          Can’t wait to look in the big glass window and roll my eyes at THE BOUJIE PEOPLE BEHIND THE WALL.
          There’s no overpriced brouchetta (sp? who cares) for THE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE WALL.
          There’s twittering and cooing and carefully digested upper middle class subtle declarations of wealth trends for THE BOUJIE PEOPLE BEHIND THE WALL.
          There’s Jersey-style faux aging paint jobs, snooty ‘tude and a feeling of being shut out of your own neighborhood for THE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE WALL.
          There’s overpriced highlights, high prices, low lighting and low class for the BOUJIE PEOPLE BEHIND THE WALL.

          (ad lib to fade)

          Wouldn’t you be embarrassed to eat at Stellnerd now? If you got the cash, go to the other non-neighborhood chi-chi joke restaurant, near 99c store. Hey, they look like a bunker too….

  25. Replace it with a bike rack and douse it in patchouli!

  26. This looks TERRIBLE. I don’t just mean that it messes up the sidewalk, I mean it makes the restaurant look like a freaking bunker. Urban designers talk about creating a “permiable membrane” on storefronts to blur the lines between outside and inside, welcoming pedestrians inside. This….this is NOT that. This dude is definitely going to lose out on some business over this.

  27. I think it looks nice and would like to see more walls like this go up around Silver Lake. I’d also like to pave over the reservoir and make some extra parking spots for my truck.

  28. The wall will still be an eyesore and will still obstruct the sidewalk, decorated or not. Just because Mr. Katner has done positive things for this community it doesn’t make him entitled to impose something on the community that it clearly doesn’t want. If Mr. Katner had the community’s best interest in mind he would listen to its concerns and find a creative compromise other than simply painting the wall and growing vines on it.

  29. MUSTACHE!!!!….
    that new wall needs a Big Huge 3D Hipster Mustache sculpture on the front of it.
    make all the tourists ooo and ahhh

  30. NOT ACCEPTABLE! Who ever heard of a sidewalk cafe enclosed in a 6′ cinderblock wall? This is one of the only places in LA that comes close to being a cool public space (‘just when you thought it was safe to walk in L.A…).

    Especially egregious given awesome new efforts to improve the streetscape in this stretch of Sunset (Sunset Triangle Park, redo of the Santa Monica/Sunset intersection, etc.).

    Unfortunately LA’s urban design standards don’t prevent this sort of stupidity– so the only way to get it changed is for the owner to have a change of heart.

    I know I’ll never go to Stella again if this wall remains.

  31. It looks horrific. It really spoils the corner. And his reasoning — that he doesn’t want his customers to have to look at the El Pollo Loco — oh, dear God, come on.

  32. I personally am a little sick of everyone thinking they should tell property and business owners what they can do with their spaces, especially when they are trying to expand and better their business. I think some Silver Lakers have too much time on their hands. I personally do not know the owners but I think they should be left alone as they spend their own money to create their own space. Leave them alone. It’s turning back into Red Hill around here.

  33. Ha looks like a giant planter

  34. I think the real eyesore isn’t the wall, it’s the El Pollo Loco across the street. Maybe that should be what’s torn down.

  35. The design is horrendous!

    Extremely unpleasant, horrifying, or terrible: “Have you seen the Cafe Stella addition? It is horrendous!”

  36. The issues is not what the wall looks like – Gareth can dress it up however he wants. The issue is that the wall exists. A compromise would be to lower the wall to waist height. It will make the corner more vibrant and encourage more business. There are examples of great bars and restaurants in Los Feliz, Downtown and even in Silver Lake that show how well sidewalk dining and drinking liven up a street and don’t need to be hidden behind a wall.

    At the very least he could create two 3’x3′ open ‘windows’ in the wall facing Sunset Blvd.

    Inundate him with ideas – he asked for it last night at the NC meeting.

  37. How ironic. Isn’t this a French cafe??? The beuaty of French cafes is the fact that they are wide open and on the street so people can sip a coffee and watch the world go by. This is why we LOVE cafes in france. Build a wall? How can you view the world passing by? I suppose the very purpose of this is to block OUT the world outside, no? Oui!

  38. Looks like i will finally be able to get a table here! 🙂

  39. ‘The Wall’ is playing at the Coliseum on May 19th, so one can see a Wall torn down there if they like….

  40. I was at the meeting. It didn’t sound to me like Gareth has any intentions of changing the wall. All suggestions were ignored and there was no info from cd13 of any code violations. If anything, it will be taller and intrude more on the walkway once the bougenvalia grows in.

    The only pedestrian solution (briefly mentioned) is the city could add a sidewalk bumpout on that corner to fix the narrow walkway and blind corner that’s created by covering the building facade with a wall.

    I’m hoping the neighborhood council can discuss the possibility of this solution at a future meeting… I will be emailing them shortly.

  41. It is the wall that Kantner’s arrogance built. And yes, I unfortunately know him. I’ve never been to Cafe Stella and never will. I don’t know how people could expect anything better than this from him.

  42. I’m gonna play devils advocate here. I watched the video on the Patch. I can understand Gareth’s motives. Also, a open patio on THAT corner may not be that inviting to most patrons. It’s VERY loud—Metro buses going by often, engine fumes, etc., and way more traffic than what Figaro would see (especially Metro buses that do not drive by Figaro). Figaro patrons are also buffered by an extra lane distance due to the parked cars, while Stella’s corner does not have parked cars, so the cars (and buses, big trucks) drive next to that sidewalk (especially when turning that corner).

    The fact that NO one turned up to talk to him in person is very telling. People are making excuses about not having enough notice, etc., I say BS. Not ONE person showed UP! LOL.

    I think the rants here are about the openness of that corner, period. It’s not about what would be better for Stella, it’s what people liked about that corner.
    It’s his property and if zoning/permitting allowed it, that open corner is gone. Get over it, it wasn’t the public’s corner and all this time, people have been cutting across private property when cutting corner, period.

    Sure it was nice before, and it might be nice after (in a different way), but it’s done.

    • I could definitely see his argument, it’s more the placement of the patio that irks me. If we’re serious about making LA pedestrian friendly, than I think there should be zoning to prevent businesses from building a huge opaque wall all the way to the property line on a busy pedestrian corridor. I presume the building facade has been open storefronts since 1928 (so says the sign) so it’s a matter of historic integrity as well (street facing retail built to serve the red car trolleys back in the day)

      Anyway, we’ve all said our piece, Gareth disagrees, and the only thing we can do is push the city to widen the sidewalk at that corner and shop elsewhere.

  43. @corner soul: Guess I was mistaken about no one showing up, even though that is what I read.
    Besides you, anyone else show up?

  44. I don’t understand the ‘pedestrian friendly’ argument.

    The public sidewalk is still there. The only difference is that people can’t cut across private property anymore, so they might have to walk an extra 5 ft, oh dear!

    Again, the hidden (or not so hidden) argument here is the esthetics of that corner, which isn’t as ‘open’ anymore. So it ain’t loitering friendly.

    Look, I remember when it was a Vice store and they had parties with DJ’s out front, sunset junction festival and all. It was cool. But the Vice store is gone and it’s a restaurant now, and honestly I wouldn’t want to sit at a table on THAT corner trying to enjoy some lite conversation with wine as Metro buses barreled by….

    • What’s hard to understand? The original architect built the structure with a setback and storefronts to foster a strong pedestrian presence… it’s basic urban design.

  45. There is no ‘store’ there anymore = no ‘storefront’.

    Sure an architect designed the corner with the intent on fostering window shopping with a store and windows to display items for sale, but the store is gone! No window shopping to encourage anymore. No need to keep a standing space for shoppers to gawk in the windows while allowing pedestrians going somewhere to get by.

    Is that hard to understand???

  46. DAMN! Sure pissed some people off. No wonder there is so much rage and hate in the world! All upset over a wall. Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall or did he? If some of you had it your way, we would have sat on the sidewalk and never had a great fall!

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