Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Echo Park market prepares to close in the face of steep rent increase

ECHO PARK —   For nearly 50 years, El Batey No. 2  has anchored the corner of Echo Park and Delta Avenues at the bottom of a brick apartment building. Here, a 74-year-old woman named Evelia has tended to the family business that served a primarily Latino clientele with all manner of merchandise, from soda and Mexican foods to beer and cleaning supplies. Now, after watching the block gentrify with boutiques, a coffee house and gourmet grocery, El Batey is preparing to close early next month after failing to come to terms with the new landlord.  Representatives of the new owners have talked about raising the rent approximately 300%, said Ramon Pack III, an attorney and Evelia’s son. “Not only is that not feasible, it’s a slap in the face,” he said.

Evelia, a native of Mexico, and her family have deep roots in Echo Park, where she lives a block away from the store.  She once worked as a cashier at Nayarit, a former Mexican restaurant that is now home to The Echo nightclub, before becoming a familiar presence at El Batey No. 2. The store opened 48 years ago in a former Jewish deli (El Batey No. 1 used to operate in Silver Lake).  The business expanded into the adjacent space, selling on credit to the neighborhood’s Latino customers, many of whom lived upstairs in the apartment building.  The store might have been dark and dusty at times, but Evelia served as a welcoming presence. She turned her regular customers into friends, jotting down their birth dates in the store’s ledger and delivering home cooked meals to those who were housebound.

El Batey remained in business even when gang violence was at its peak, with frequent shootings and gang members in control of the block. In fact, Mi Vida Loca, the 1993 movie about Echo Park female gang members, filmed  a shooting scene outside the store’s front door.  But it was gentrification, not gangs, that took a bigger toll on El Batey’s business.  As the neighborhood changed and many immigrant families were priced out, Evelia’s pool of Spanish-speaking customers shrank.  Whites and other non-Latinos have also patronized El Batey but the store has continued to struggle.

“It was the Latino community that supported me,” said Evelia from the behind the counter of what is, for now, one of Echo Park’s oldest businesses. “I sold a lot of beans, tortillas, candy, pan dulce because the people here had families with many children.  Not anymore. That ended.”

In April, the landlord unexpectedly ordered El Batey to vacate the building in 30 days but the business was able to get a one month delay to try and negotiate a lease.  Pack III  said he was in contact with several representatives of the company over the past month but it looks like he was getting the run around, he said.  Negotiations never began. Meanwhile, other prospective tenants were notified that the space was coming up for lease, Pack III said.

The Eastsider has contacted leasing officials for comment.

At the end of this week, a representative of the landlord issued a last-minute deadline:  El Batey would have until next Wednesday to come up with a long list of documentation – including renovation and business plans, an approved contractor, three years of detailed financials records – if it wanted to negotiate a lease.  Pack III said that’s totally unrealistic. “That’s another way of saying “we want your family out.'”

Evelia has been through this once before. In 2008, the store was faced with a steep rent hike after the building changed hands.  But Evelia, who was profiled by L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez at the time,  remained in business.  Now, she’s seeking public support to buy more time in the building, which was sold for $9.275 million at the end of last year, to sell off inventory and wrap up her affairs.

What will Evelia do when the store closes? “I will just go home.”

Eastsider Advertising


  1. Well that’s just pathetic! Echo Park has already gone through so many changes. El Batey is pretty much a Landmark in Echo Park. It’s sad that greed is forcing this closure. Evelia has done nothing but help her customers for years!

    • Evelia is great. Love her. I live there and buy beer from her sometimes. But I really wish she had cleaned up the place years ago. I used to like going in there but it is dusty and smells now.

      Evelia’s son Ramon Pack III: Senior Vice President/Senior Trust Officer at US Trust. Looks like he did pretty good. He should just buy the place for her.

    • People who believe that cities, communities, countries should stay the same are people with their heads buried in the sand. The evolution of a community is just that; it changes, evolves and welcomes new residents and business. Nobody owns a town, despite how many roots you claim you have. And to bash “coffee-drinking hipsters with tattoos” is really just doing exactly the same as what you’re complaining about. I’m not a hipster, but I think that that word gets bandied around carelessly (as Julia writes) and offensively. Let the coffee-drinking hipsters roll in please – they’re putting money into new local businesses.
      People who are scared of change and don’t welcome evolving communities as progress are the same people who are holding us back. Change – whether it comes with coffee-drinking hipsters or families you don’t want living next door – is inevitable. You either accept it or you move forward. But please stop complaining.
      “Outsiders”? communities change over time, “In the early 20th century, Highland Park and neighboring Pasadena became havens for artists and intellectuals who led the Arts and Crafts movement.” There was a big Italian presence in HLP and Eagle Rock for example. Now it’s different. “Many locations in Silver Lake and Edendale/Echo Park appeared in these early motion pictures. For example the famous Laurel and Hardy short film “The Music Box” was filmed here, and many of the Keystone Cops chase scenes were shot along Glendale Blvd. Many of these early films are still showing at nearby theaters.
      Not only was area home to many of the early studios, numerous filmmakers actors, directors, etc. also lived in Silver Lake. These included Gloria Swanson, Laurel and Hardy, Antonio Moreno, and many others.”
      So it would seem that these neighborhoods are returning to their historical roots, before they were largely latino and the subject of “Mi Vida Loca” type scenarios. Stop the “hipster” bashing, it’s so tired.

      • So… you clearly don’t believe in old classic businesses, do ya? Clearly you have no regard for this poor woman and her store, eh?

        May this never happen to you…. and if it did, shame on you for showing no empathy and compassion!

        The WHOLE POINT OF THE ARTICLE is about El Batey… You’re probably the new owner! *HISS*

        • This is rich. The entire neighborhood of Echo Park used to be nice, upper middle class and not run down. I remember watching it become run down and swarming with illeghal immigrants around the 1970s, with the homes becoming shacks and the businessesbeing boarded up or run like Mexican street markets with most of them not having any employees who spoke English. I watched as the gangs and old run down cars took over. Now, the area has a chance at a second life, and this woman wants to keep it trashy? Look at the picture at the beginning of the article. It looks run down and inappropriate for ANY business. Good riddance.

  2. I’m not sure why the new owners feel they need the money so badly. It’s not like they are hurting and NEED to raise the rent and make things so hard. Get a heart http://graftonlofts.com/. BTW owned by http://mwestholdings.com

    New lease I understand. Tactics to force them out, I do not. You guys Suck! Where did all the talk go about how you were saving this building and adding to the neighborhood. As a 15 year resident in Echo Park who has watched the transition to gentrification, this one really is rediculous. I’m all for a nicer neighborhood etc, but again, M West Holdings and Grafton Lofts, you guys are heartless jerks!

    • Jennifer,

      As someone who has lived here since ’96 – I agree wholly and thank you for posting these links and calling them out. Disgusting and shameful. And I might add – LIARS.

      • They actually boast on their Grafton page about the retail amenities – the very same businesses they have priced out. I see Starbucks indeed.

    • This property company bought the building that my office is that. They are horrible landlords by the way.

    • You are so right, Jennifer. But what you are complaining about is really pretty much the totality of what gentrification is all about. Gentrification is 100% about running out the old people and the old standards and the old places and replacing them with richer people and trendy and high priced places — that’s what even the word gentrification means.

      Gentrification is evil. And this is why so many people have spoken out agianst it here for many years now — to the deaf ear of our then-councilman Eric Garcetti, who himself was the epitomy of gentrification. And all Garcetti ever did was to put gentrification on steroids by pushing through the small lot subdivision ordinance, which has served only to skyrocket already high housing prices, making it so no one wanting to buy a house to live in can possibly outbid developers who want to tear it down for a pack of sardine cans that will reap them literally a couple million dollars profit for that one former house lot. (And current Councilman O’Farrell has been very happy to let this continue, doing nothing of any substance to rein in the SLS ordinance despite a LOT of complaints from constituents all around.) Developers from all over the world are flooding in here for the new California gold rush of tearing down houses to replace them with sardine cans at astronomical prices.

      And the loss of El Batey, a true local landmark, is not isolated. Many businesses, including other local landmarks, also have been run out by skyrocketing rents. It would have been nice to see this story report how much rent these owners are asking for this out of the way location — some places are finding their rents skyrocketed to $11,000 a month — they have to hand over that much to the landlord before they can even start to recoup their expenses much less make any money.

    • I live in the building up stairs and heard that this is nothing new. They have been working on a deal for months and months. Since the new owners bought the place. I don’t think Raymond lives in the neighborhood any more. How long can Evelia keep it up? She is moving slower these days.

  3. Evilgentrification

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    Gentrification=economic ethnic cleansing

    To the new landlord.

    You are about to have a vacant space for a new trendy……… whatever shop.

    Which will probably close in a few months and then another whatever shop will move in and so on. So congratulations on now having a revolving retail space!

    Smart real estate investment!

    You’re a jerk Mr. Landlord.

    And to all the negative comments which will follow.
    Hipsters are the epitome of a stereotype. For a culture of supposed anti this and anti that and we are too cool for what you think is cool.

    You are totally conforming to what you should be against. The destruction of culture!
    But hey maybe because it’s not cool to destroy a established culture that appeals to you thus making it cool for you. Ah the contradiction!!!

    Boy you hipsters are weird and I can’t wait until you guys find a new neighborhood to destroy and move on. And what’s left of echo park can rebuild what has been thrown away.

    • Agreed about the the revolving retail space. They should be so lucky to have a retail tenant remain in buiness for 48 YEARS.

      • Yes this is a sad story…

        But it seemed to be lost on this person that before this store the space was occupied by a JEWISH DELI. Neighborhoods change.

        Just because in our short lives things sometimes seem stable, it takes a broader perspective to understand the shifting of urban demographics.

        As they say, change in the only constant.

        This may be scary or sad to you, but turning your fear into hate is not going to help anything.

        Labeling people as ‘hipsters’ so you can hate them more easily… thats just annoying.

        • Did the jewish deli close because their rent was tripled? Or because they lost their customer base? If it was the latter, there is no comparison and your analogy is false.

          • Wait – The woman in the article implied that she lost her customer base. To wit:

            “It was the Latino community that supported me,” said Evelia from the behind the counter of what is, for now, one of Echo Park’s oldest businesses. “I sold a lot of beans, tortillas, candy, pan dulce because the people here had families with many children. Not anymore. That ended.”

            I’m not taking sides; I’m simply showing the fallacy in your logic.

          • Duly noted according to that quote . . . well-played, my friend . . .

    • This has nothing to do with hipsters, and your not helping a cause that I, as a relocated white person (you might call hipster) are on the same side as you in this battle against greed the erosion of our neighborhoods culture, which is very diverse. Im also a white person against the gang injunction but when people post these bigoted comments it makes me not want to help or even lend my voice to the argument. Lets blame the right people for this (greedy real estate investors who don’t know what enough profit is) instead of taking aim at a group of people because they appear to be new to the neighborhood.

      • Thank you for saying this – we should all really try to remember who is to blame here. I’m getting sick of the hipster argument. If someone lives here and is spending money in local stores then they are not the enemy. The battle is between those who appreciate and support the community and those looking to make a buck at any cost.

      • Ec ho Park resident

        Thank you! There is a lot of misdirected rage here. Do not blame your Echo Park neighbors for this just because their skin color is different than yours. Blame the millionaire developers who come in from places like Hollywood and snatch up buildings in our neighborhood left and right. The 20-something “hipster” next doors is probably just trying to make ends meet like you are. Don’t judge, especially when we know who is behind this eviction in the first place!

      • Echo Park Devil's Advocate

        I’m curious, how much is “enough” profit? And who get’s to decide how much “enough” is?

        For all I know maybe the landlords are greedy bastards just trying to force out the little guy. But it’s also possible that they’re just asking that the tenants to pay the current market rate. They made a large investment and they do not exist to subsidize other businesses, no matter how long-standing and supposedly cherished those businesses may be.

        Gentrification does play a role here, but not because new residents are inherently evil. As the neighborhood changes so does the demand for products and services. I personally don’t believe El Batey was serving that new demand very well. No doubt some new business will make the economics work.

        I’m always vexed at the outrage when a small business goes under, or in this instance one can’t afford the rent of a new landlord. If we, as a neighborhood, wanted El Batey No. 2 to thrive for another 48 years we would just…shop there more.

        • I agree with this point. She needs to update the store to serve the newer demand around it, and she should greatly benefit from doing so too despite a higher rent. Gentrification does play a role but it’s really not that cut and dry, and the developers shouldn’t have to subsidize any business no matter how sweet and admirable the tenant may be. But they should give Evelia a chance, maybe even help her and perhaps invest a little of their own into her business and they should do it out of kindness and to show that there are things more important than money, And they will see a return on an investment from the heart such as this. Just give her some time and help to turn El Batey into a something that serves the area better. Things change, gotta change with it. Bottom line. But people who are already doing just fine outta give the little a chance.

          • Evelia DID have plans to re-do the entire store to focus on nice wine, and add a upscale deli. She presented these plans to the landlord, and they just weren’t interested. they want her gone and they want ‘Beverly Hills boutiques’ in their retail spots. Echo Park may be on the up and up, but no one here is shopping for $500 skirts and expensive jewelry. Evolve with the times, sure, but give residents stores that provide basic services we can actually USE. I use El Batey all the time for basics like sauces, beverages and snacks. $300 sandals? not helping me out so much.

      • I have lived here over 15 years now – and I mourn the loss of these establishments too – but comments like this make it more difficult.

        I love this neighborhood, and have great neighbors – but I have always been very aware of a few bad seeds that have hated my ‘invasion’ of ‘their’ neighborhood.

        I tolerate the racism – but when it is flung at me so aggressively it undermines and distracts some very valid and important points others are trying to make.

  4. We need some form of Commercial Rent Control, and we needed it a long time ago.
    These landlords are nothing more than greedy. Raise the rent by 50 percent, 75 percent, maybe…
    that won’t generate much news. But raising it by 300 percent? That’s just greed. It shows the new landlord has not a care in the world about their public image. And it paves the way for other landlords to do the same. It’s gouging. I lived in the area for 12 years and I too was ‘priced out’ and now it just sort of turns my stomach
    to read these stories. Even the new “millenials” moving into the area should be concerned about this kind of greed.

    • She was paying $1000 in 2007. “Hey peeps…there is a little market called “El Batey” next door to the Chango coffee shop on Echo Park Ave. that has been there for 41 YEARS….things have grown and changed around it, it’s geared for Latin needs not the Trader Joe type of shopper. If you are a regular you have extended credit…I know people who have held a balance of almost a thousand dollars at one point, which reflects just how much of a family oriented establishment this really is. As of January the warm and wonderful woman named Evailia and her family who has kept us in milk, cat food and breath mints for almost a half century will be priced out. The lease will expire as of January 1st, the rent will be tripled, so now the $1,000 that Evailia barely clears as it stands will become $3,000.”

      $3000 for that space now would be a bargain, I believe.

      • The rent would now be $300,000 per year with a 300% increase, not $3,000. That would be impossible for the store owner to pay.

      • Stereotyping each other will not help. Calling this company and telling them how much we think El Batey enhances this block of Echo Park could help. On the other hand, the owners son told me they did present renovation plans. Maybe someone could step forward and help them pull the paperwork together. I’ve written to Mitch O’Farrell. Maybe contacting Steve Lopez again would help. Could we use this to bring us together, instead of flinging invective against one another?

    • Boy o boy steve. Glad you aren’t running our economy. What you are describing is good old fashion communism. The only problem with communism is when you run out of other people’s money to spend.

  5. I wouldn’t be so quick to blame hipsters, millennials or whites for this as they like the low prices and cultural variety as much as enyone else. This is a combination of developer greed and El Batey not adjusting to the demographic shift in the neighborhood. Take a look at La Tropicana market on Monte Vista in HLP for a reference on how to not get swallowed up in the wave of gentrification and thrive in it.

    • Very, very fair point. However, do you think La Tropicana could survive a 300% rent increase? I’m with Steve Roche about some form of commercial rent control, even in the mildest possible form.

  6. Make way for another fraking Starbucks and Jamba Juice. I live in Boyle Heights, and I can’t really blame the “newcomers” from moving here. They move here because, like most of us, they can’t afford to live anywhere else in L.A.. A lot of artists are moving in, and they sure as hell can’t afford to live in the Arts District anymore.. I don’t look forward to the gentrification, and I would be there with the rest of the B.H. community to control it.

    • I really hope that isn’t true but I’m guessing something like that is going to move in…. Disgusting.

  7. El batay is and was a raid smelling, dusty , molding , foul pit ….goodbye and take your red hot Cheetos with you….

    • Dear Jer,
      You are a positively a foul smelling soulless creature. How dare you! You are the very reason why Echo Park is losing its charm. Saying such callous words to our beloved jewel in our neighborhood. Elvalia has been an integral, positive force here, whom is one of the main reasons why Echo Park is so beloved. Shame on you! Do your research, son. You and along with a community, should instead, cherish her as a distinguished business woman, with her beautiful soul and smile that welcomes all sorts. By the way, she would never say harsh words about you, even if you did her wrong, like you just did.
      Flamin hot Cheetos, they are even more delicious when I buy them from her!

      • Evelia sounds like an amazing woman… as evidenced by her son, who is clearly successful, and is a Senior VP at a bank. Having said that… instead of shouting about gentrification, evil developers (many of whom are, um, BANKS), and ethnic cleansing… why didn’t Evelia’s son step in to help her out? He’s an educated man, surely he saw the writing on the wall with regard to Echo Park’s development and the notion that his mom would be priced out eventually. Now he’s crying crocodile tears.

        Not being distraught that El Batey is closing down does not make one a racist or an evil capitalist. All of you people rending your garments on this comment thread are unintentionally hilarious.

      • zzzZZZzzzZZz

    • Wow, what a statement to make especially in light of what is happening!
      Evalia is a bar of GOLD. I lived upstairs for a decade and this was before there was a buzzer door system. Evalia would take in packages for us tenants out of the goodness of her heart. Otherwise they would get taken if left on the filthy carpetted steps. She would regularly cook delicious meals and bring us plates, gave gifts to the kids in the building. Even to this day though I haven’t lived in the building or in EP for more than 5 yrs, she still phones my family on holidays to let us know she loves us.
      I also know that she would allow people in the building she knew and who needed it to pay her later for things. I cannot explain what a great and iconic lady she is. A true asset to the neighborhood.
      Just unbelievable treatment by these new landlords. They will get theirs.

  8. A rent increase of 300% is absolutely pure greed! It is a quaint market and a rare gem.

    • The items that I have bought at El Batey over the years can be found for much cheaper prices at other markets nearby. It seems like there are several different issues coming together here — but one of them has to be the fact that the owners/proprietors of El Batey have not developed a way to keep regular customers coming in. They are in a prime location surrounded by tons of foot traffic, and the store is often empty.

      I guess it’s lucky for some customers if they could run up credit for $1000 at the store. That is a wonderful act of generosity by the store owners — but is it a way to stay in business?

      • Echo Park Devil's Advocate

        I certainly can’t know for sure, but it sounds like it is a 300% increase, on what was previously some extremely favorable lease terms, in order to bring them in line with everyone else on the block. If that’s the case, it’s only a ludicrous increase because previously they were getting a ludicrous DISCOUNT. Just a thought.

  9. I just have one word for mwestholdings: KARMA!
    It will come back to those with greedy hearts, it’s just a fact of life. They can’t pretend to not know what this one small retail space means to this community. And still, it doesn’t matter one bit!!
    El Batey has touched thousands of peoples lives these past 50 years, and for that we are thankful. It’s places like these that make up the heart and soul of a community, but sadly they are disappearing. I can only hope that whatever takes it’s place has even one ounce of love and passion for the people of this community as El Batey did.

  10. I think there is a massive mortgage note to be paid on $9.275 million dollar price tag, so I bet the new landlord does need to raise the rent to operate in the black. If anyone should be painted with “greedy” label it’s the old landlord who cashed out in a strong market and has taken the money and left. The new landlord has taken a huge financial risk, and you’re right, he’s betting on gentrification. Even a 50 year old business needs to learn to adapt in a changing market.

  11. sad to see a business end. but I only went in there like once in like twenty years of living around there.

  12. For the previous incarnation of this story:


    and a nicely-written reflection on the nature of change on that corner:


    @editor: “…opened 48 years ago in a former Jewish deli …” Thank you for that nice touch.

  13. Another case of David vs. Goliath in Echo Park. A 300% increase for Evelia or any business on such short notice is unethical. Let me know what petition I need and to sign and what corporation I need to boycott Ramon. Sounds like a battle has just begun.

    • 300% !!!!!! Rent increase????? That is greed!!!! You have my support for that unfair rent increase. I will sign to boycott too…. I am from Acaponeta, Nayarit.

    • Or maybe its really bankers vs. bankers. Her son is a Senior Vice President at US Trust.

  14. This was my very first weekend job & seeing my God Mother work this store with no days off & seeing the love her customers showed her was priceless…PLEASE don’t take this away from her/her family & the people who love her.

  15. Sorry to hear about the bad news. I hope everyone affect can take photos before it closes to at least keep the memory alive.

  16. When long term rent control residental renters get booted in LA, the owners have to cut them a nice check normally. I wonder why this does not apply for a commercial business like hers? It is very unfortunate, as I am a very good friend of Evelia and the family.

    At a minimum, corporate america, who now owns the property could at least give her more time to prepare for her retirement and closure.

    Echo Park is a tight community. My suggestion is that everyone who cares for Evelia, post a comment stating that they will boycot any business that lands in her current store location.

    On a side note, if this investment company really wants a spike in revenue, they should start to rent the outdoor tables at the neighboring coffee shop by the hour as people show up daily and never leave. They could also boot the lady at the end who has a vintage clothing shop by the hair salon and put in a more meaningful business with an owner who really fits into the neighborhood and is not a rude person.

  17. Why can’t people just get on with it? …it’s just cheap nostalgia…how many times …have all you defenders of that grim establishment…actually been there in the last year…goodbye and good riddance….plenty of other ‘tienditas’ to go to if you really yearn for that rubbish…

    • @Jer, “cheap nostalgia” is exactly what gives/gave EP its charm! It serves(d) a purpose and completes a circle of unpredictable urban funk. I’m interested to find out what brought you to EP?

    • I’m nostalgic for inflammatory comments written in actual sentences with periods, by trolls who know the English language. Man, those were the days.

  18. I have lived in Echo Park for 10+ years and Evelia was the first neighbor to befriend me. I remember the first time I walked in to her store. I had $5 and was figuring out what to buy that would last me. She knew this by looking at me. She said “take what you want and pay me later”. She didn’t even know me, only that I had just moved in! I grew up in small town U.S.A and that kind of neighborly gesture does not exist anymore. She is rare and the definition of what a neighbor should be. Everyone knows her and loves her. We are sad that after 48 years in service to this community that she does not get to make the choice to retire El Batey when she wanted. It is sad that it is happening under the circumstances now. She is very much the heart of this neighborhood. Look, neighborhoods will change. People come and go, but she’s been here the longest. She deserved more. Progress can happen without stepping on a person’s back–I truly wish that the ones coming in to Echo Park with visions of the future could understand that.

    • Easy credit a nice gesture sure. But a big reason she was able to play fast-and-loose with those riskier business practices is because she was paying well below market rent. Perhaps instead of lending credit so easily (which based on averages alone would mean a money looser) she should have been investing in the quality of her product and the presentation of her store. This would have allowed her to be more profitable and prepared for inevitable cost increases. Now all she has is sympathy. Can’t buy much with that.

      To all you renters. Remember to save your nickels. Prepare for this eventuality. If you don’t OWN, you are not in control.

  19. This is disgusting! Have people become so driven by money that they are unable to feel? I hope no one rents their stupid “lofts” and that we all refuse to patronize the “H&R Block” and “Jamba Juice” that will soon be setting up shop. Way to ruin Echo Park you selfish WANKERS!

    Evelia has been such a positive force in Echo Park. She gave her heart and soul to this community even when it was a gang-infested throw-away neighborhood that no one wanted to have anything to do with.

    She loved the kids of this neighborhood unconditionally, fronted money to poor families so they could eat, and gave of everything she had to this community. She often times was the only source of happiness for folks in this neighborhood. There are almost 50 years of stories of people who have been touched by her kindness. No amount of money can replace that. Evelia, you are the true definition of an ANGEL!

    JER, you SUCK! Having such disregard for someone who has MADE this neighborhood tells me that you have most likely not contributed a damn thing to this community except your snarky, unsympathetic attitude.

    I say we make Evelia the GRAND MARSHALL at this year’s Christmas Parade. Such a small token to let her know how much we all love her…except for JER, who will be busy moving into his $2500 500sq foot loft upstairs…

  20. Stores like this give the neighborhood a family feel. Please allow this business to remain in this family oriented neighborhood.

  21. If Jer is so evil, if this store is so great, why has not one commenter mentioned actually buying ANYTHING in this store? I have. In the last 7 years, I have bought one lemon in this store. Any body else? I’m sure they are nice, but who is this store serving? Anyone? Old school? Hipsters? WHO?

    • I buy things here all the time. as do other people. clearly that is the case or it would not have been open for almost 50 years.

  22. Same thing happened to Mi Alma and Echo Gardens (tho both relocated to other neighborhoods where they are thriving now). Same with the stores at Echo Park Ave and Dwane. Businesses that were barely getting by suddenly had rent yanked up 300%. They moved on. Those landlords were pigs to their tenants, but isn’t this the culture now?

    • Echo Gardens and Mi Alma only had a year lease on that property. And no,they were not delighted in having to leave. Having lived up on Vestal since buying my little casita for $112,000 in ’85, we in the area watch with dread what’s going to take that space on Avalon/EP now. As for the pigs that have destroyed El Batey: BURN IN HELL

    • Ec ho Park resident

      Where did Echo Garden move to??

  23. I have known this family since I was in the womb. I used to frequent this shop as a kid, and I remember playing around up and down the aisles looking for candy. I can’t believe that the landlord would force out a business that has been an Echo Park staple for over 50 years. I thought hipsters enjoyed frequenting local “hole in the walls” and this is an Echo Park gem.

    I think the landlord should help the family by not increasing the rent so dramatically and demanding unreasonable rent terms given the overall circumstances. I understand that gentrification brings both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ for a community….but forcing out local business does not help the community thrive in the long run. It can feel like such a slap to the Echo Park community, many of which have already been displaced due to increasing demand and higher rents. This is the sad part of gentrification. It is nice to see improvements in infrastructure and in the community, but not at the expense of these business owners who have been there a lifetime.

    Shame on the new owners for not allowing an alternative resolution and by forcing hard working people out of their LIFE business. Amazing.

  24. Owners beware, there is a move afoot to boycot all businesses you lease to due to your lack of community.

    • Are we boycotting Chango & Blue Collar? Please advise. Meanwhile, lets photograph everyone shopping on the block & sitting & shmoozing.

  25. I pop in here all the time for easy fruit. Snacks and water. A regular ol’ chiquita banana costs 60 cents. Its a dollar at that impersonal, health code violation gas station across the streeet where the clerk doesnt stop talking on her blue tooth to say hello or goodbye. thats the difference. This is very sad for echo park, one of the last true NEIGHBORhoods in the city.

    Lets just pray another small biz and not 711 gets their chance.

    • Yes! The service at that gas station is the polar opposite to Evelia and those at El Batey. Good point!

  26. I cannot believe that El Batey, a community and cultural landmark, is in threat of shutting down after 48 years of service to its community. My aunt Evelia has dedicated her life to running El Batey (day in and day out) and has kept it running through some of the toughest times in Los Angeles. I hope the community will stand strong and support with any efforts to keep El Batey alive. #EchoPark #LosAngeles #familybusiness #matriarch #ElBatey #landmark #saveelbatey #community #EveliaPack #TheEastsiderLA #LA

  27. A request for some context.

    Does anyone know what the market rate rents are for spaces like this in the area?
    Are the landlords asking the store to pay ‘more’ than the market rate in the area?
    Doe the current rental/lease the store pays amount to a discount to the market rent and they are being asked to pay the same as a new tenant may be willing to pay?

    • Adam, don’t try to confuse this discussion with reason.

    • best post in this thread. Before everyone gets all bunged up, we should actually look to see if the new rents are out of line with current market prices…

      • Echo Park Devil's Advocate

        Hear, hear!

      • The rent they are asking for is not in line with current market prices in the area. Other available retail spots in surrounding Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz are advertised at an average of $1.75 per square ft. They are asking El Batey to pay $4 a square ft.

        • Hear-Hear!

        • Thank you.

          So, based on the information above (which I know may be incorrect), the owners are asking them to pay $4.00 per square foot, they are currently paying about $1.33 per square foot which is a discount to the average in the area of $1.75 per square foot.

          How about changing the focus of people’s energy to finding a suitable place in the area nearby for her to move to and pay a 20% increase in rent instead of 300%?

          I recognize that a huge part of the issue is that she’s in a building that she’s serviced for decades and has a loyal customer base but if a nearby location offers a ‘fair’ rent and she can continue in business (assuming she wants to), why not just move and ask the obviously loyal customers for some help.

          • Clearly those numbers were not what you wanted to hear, Adam, but…nice recovery, man.

    • It matters not what he asks. It matters only what he gets. That is true free market capitalism…the market decides what the fair price will be.

      One answer is certain. The amount he is currently being paid is far bellow what he feels is fair. Hence the rate hike.

      The beauty is, just as he is free to ask more rent she is free to move her business.

      • Well, no. It’s far from certain that the amount he’s currently getting is “far bellow [sic] what he feels is fair.” The only thing we know for certain is that the amount he’s currently getting is far below the amount he’s currently asking. Whether he is asking it because he thinks it’s fair, or because he thinks that’s what the market will bear, or because he thinks that he has to get that much or more to get any return on his (extremely high) investment, or because he knows full well that El Batey can’t pay it and he wants El Batey gone, is something about which we can only speculate.

        Frankly, of the four possible reasons I’ve given, the first two seem highly unlikely given the evidence we have available to us. The second two seem a whole lot more likely. But it could be one of the first two, or something else entirely.

  28. El Batay is one of the most significant positive landmarks in Echo Park. For nearly 50 years this business has been serving the community. I have been in the store many times and bought many things and every time I have been there I have experienced and witnessed the graciousness of Evelia and how well she has treated everyone who walks through the door. El Batay is part of the history of Echo Park going to this store affords the opportunity to experience and understand this history. I will share this story with others to try and change the expected outcome.

  29. I cannot believe this is happening, it is so unfair. Evelia has worked so hard for this store, and she is so nice and kind, how could these people be so heartless? I just have to say that what goes around comes around.

  30. From December 2007: “Hey peeps…there is a little market called “El Batey” next door to the Chango coffee shop on Echo Park Ave. that has been there for 41 YEARS….things have grown and changed around it, it’s geared for Latin needs not the Trader Joe type of shopper. If you are a regular you have extended credit…I know people who have held a balance of almost a thousand dollars at one point, which reflects just how much of a family oriented establishment this really is. As of January the warm and wonderful woman named Evailia and her family who has kept us in milk, cat food and breath mints for almost a half century will be priced out. The lease will expire as of January 1st, the rent will be tripled, so now the $1,000 that Evailia barely clears as it stands will become $3,000.”

    Evil or not, I sincerely doubt the new owners of the building can afford to subsidize El Batey with way below market rents. It’s sad that Evelia has not been able to adapt her business to the changes in the neighborhood. She sounds like an amazing woman. If she was barely clearing the $1000 rent back in ’07 it’s amazing she’s stayed in business this long. Folks were upset when El Conquistador closed, they were beloved and had a great run. The only constant is change.

  31. Our family would like to echo the warm sentiments for Evelia and her family. We are neighbors and also frequent the store for things we need all the time. We buy salsa verde and syrup, my kids buy treats and toys sometimes with their allowance. It’s their neighborhood market. It is theirs. We send our kids to buy milk or eggs when we are out and making pancakes in the morning. Evelia always walks them across the street to make sure they are extra safe. She also gives our kids presents on their birthdays and has brought us food many times. She and her store make our neighborhood a better place to live.

    Having this store as an option in our diverse neighborhood is essential to us. The store serves many people, including our family, as we live almost right across the street from the store, and we do not just need high-priced stores in our neighborhood. We ourselves, though part of the white gentrification of the area, cannot afford many of these stores. We do not want to lose our neighborhood’s diversity and become another completely gentrified neighborhood, but rather save stores like El Batey #2 that serve families and residents like ourselves. The type of stores that occupy our neighborhood DO MATTER. We need to help support stores like this that bind people of all socio-economic levels and races. This store has been in operation FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS – it has been there through many turn overs of the neighborhood, through times when our area was not as desirable, and NOW IT NEEDS OUR SUPPORT.

    We love Echo Park because it is such a diverse community and this mixes low and high income, people of all races and orientations, and most importantly, supports tolerance and a respect for all cultures and levels of income. This diversity only exists if we strive to protect it!!

    • So, how much rent do you all think El Batey should be paying? $1000 (2008 rates)? Should the new owner continue to subsidize this below market rate? Would you all be willing to contribute monthly to help Evelia make up the difference between what she’s paying now and the new lease? She sounds like a true treasure…..

  32. We NEED to band together and make something happen. We need to let the
    neighborhood know exactly what is taking place.. We need to put up signs and get a petition
    going. If for no other reason than to let Evelia know how much she is cared for and
    appreciated. Even though this is an upsetting and unfortunate situation for Evelia to be faced with,
    what she truly needs is more time. A few more months to unload her stock. and say goodbye in a
    proper fashion. The change taking place in this neighborhood is eminent. We all know what
    the new owners are and it is clear that their priorities are not to perserve the magic of this block..
    I think there are enough people in our community that have experienced the generosity, compassion,
    and love that Evelia brings to this neighborhood to rise up and demand more time. I feel like this is
    a necessary and feasible outcome we could achieve. If anyone has any experience or knowledge as to how we might help our beloved Evelia let’s hear about it!

  33. It saddens me to my core to hear this. As someone who was born and raised in Echo Park, I know how much El Batey has meant, and still, means to residents! The greed of these people is ridiculous!! I wish there was something I could do to help keep this establishment open!

  34. This is a virtual case study of longtime residents who toughed-out the hardest times; contributed to the better times that encouraged the arrival of newcomers; and are now being excluded from prosperous times ahead. The urban-suburban grit that has always been at the core of NELA’s neighborhood appeal is under siege by pretentious investment and soulless development. The one negative thing that gangs prevented from happening back in the bad-old-days, but I guess one can’t have it all . . . Who the F’k was it that put Echo Park “on the map” in the first place!?

  35. I know this won’t help keep El Batey going but next Saturday, please come out and show your support. Lisa Gerstein, whose store Flounce used to be next door to El Batey, has organized an event to help Evelia, with Evelia’s consent.

    “Our Dear friend Evalia is being forced out of the store on Echo Park Ave where she has been for almost 50 years. She has been a neighborhood anchor, unfailingly generous to numerous individuals in our community. As of this past Friday, the new property owners served her with an eviction notice for June 5th. For so many years Evalia has looked out for us. Now we have one week to help her.

    So here’s my thought: shopping flash mob.

    Let’s line people up and down the block, buy out her inventory, and show her our support. Perhaps we can make this transition a little bit easier for her. She is on board and said that this would be a huge help to her.
    Anyone with any thoughts, ideas, musical instruments or logistical help please contact me ASAP”


  36. I’m for another jewish deli.

    • Sounds good but small delis can’t make it anymore. They have to be full service restaurants to make a go of it. Jewish deli food truck?.

    • Jewish delis were supported by the same thing that used to support El Batey: a working class ethnic community. Just sayin’. Not sure an old-school deli could survive in the neighborhood now anyway. Gluten-free bagels anyone? Grass-fed local corned beef?

  37. Do any of you own a house?
    How much has it’s value increased over the last….pick a number….of years?
    Even in still crime riddled HLP!
    Pre TV Maron’s lived off his equity, not the podcast.

    • @jocko- I’ve lived in Highland Park long enough to know that there some who refer to it as HLP – which isn’t Highland Park….and yes, my properties have definitely benefitted from the Real Estate turnaround. For many of us longtimers, we do not consider it “crime riddled!” For many of us, it’s the serene arroyos and rolling hills of the Northeast. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – Wouldn’t you agree?

      • The prevalence of crime and the beauty of serene arroyos and rolling hills are not mutually exclusive. The police activity on the ground and spotlights from the sky is no different than it used to be in EP and the situation is improving. People feared being seen speaking to the police here in EP and parts of SL, and still do in Highland Park. I know this because my daughter lives there and I’m around a lot. Yes, criminals are drawn to EP and SL on the weekend & it gets a bit hairy at times, as it is most of the time in much of Highland Park. We choose to live in these neighborhoods, enjoy them and try to stay safe as our properties increase in value.

        • Dude, when was the last time you were in Highland Park?? The mid-nineties? Hardly crime riddled.

          • it was meant as a comparison to other neighborhoods that went through the same type of changes. I said that my daughter lives there. I’m there all the time. It’s getting better but some of it is still very sketchy. Are they police helicopters lighting up your street? Used to on my EP street but not much anymore. Have you taken the gates off your doors and windows yet? Most of the old timers still have them up.

          • Highland Park crime stats for the seven days between May 18 and May 24, violent crime reports jumped significantly and property crime reports rose.
            Over the last three months, Highland Park averaged 1.8 violent crimes and 12.0 property crimes per week.
            This week’s rate of 3.5 crimes per 10,000 people is higher than in nearby Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, Cypress Park and Mount Washington.http://maps.latimes.com/neighborhoods/neighborhood/highland-park/crime/

  38. Think I’ll leave the Prius in the garage and bike over to get me some Hot Flaming Cheetos before they are all gone. When Chango took half of Batey their plan was to sell to Starbucks or the highest coffee chain bidder when Elvalia no longer could afford the other half. It was all planned. Ask the original principals. They will confirm. When Chevron okayed a franchise across the street, the die was cast. Elvalia could have sold but stayed on.

  39. My family has been coming here for over 25 years. We have known Evelia and she has been a godsend to this neighborhood. What is happening to her is really unfair and I hope that there is some type of opportunity for Evelia to continue here. Echo park has changed throughout the years and she has been part of the foundation to this neighborhood.

  40. There seem to be two issues at hand. One is the amazing owner/family and all the wonderful things they’ve done for the community. The second is the actual store and the products they sell. My heart goes out to Elvalia but she didn’t strike a balance between long-term loyal customers and newer/younger money. The store is in a prime location – it’s the canyon funnel. They draw in such a little amount of that traffic because they don’t sell anything unique. They could have developed a thriving takeout food business selling tamales or whatever, but it’s coke, ice, cigarettes and dust. There is only so much a magical personality can bring to the table. I too grabbed a banana and some water a few weeks back, some charcoal for the grill a year before, odds and ends years before that, but the place doesn’t deliver. I am NOT a proponent of all the newer spots. Fix coffee – 4.50 for pre-brewed drip coffee, get over yourself (and your food is SO decent it’s pathetic). Otherwild, useless faux-exclusive non-art trinkets, boring. But some new places do kick a$$ – Cookbook, as pricey as you are, you sell the best and your delicious cup of coffee is a reasonable $2.50. Guisado’s, you give us wonderful slow food and your prices are fit for most to enjoy. Masa, you’ve been around forever and your pizza is whatever, but the vibe and beer make up for it. Hopefully the landlords will vet the newcomers and help add value to the neighborhood. All this talk about them being evil is hilarious – you think they purchased the building for humanitarian reasons? Pffft. As long as they don’t sign a lease with Starbucks, Jamba Juice or some other life-deadening chain, the change will be overwhelmingly welcomed.

    • spot on. the bleeding hearts are oblivious apparently.

    • couple of points: yes she could have done a better job of adapting but that still probably wouldn’t have saved her from a 300% rent increase. And why would the landlords vet anyone if as you say they didn’t purchase it for humanitarian reasons all the more reason to rent to Starbucks since that kind of business is most likely the only type of business able to afford that kind of rent.

  41. I definitely have a soft spot for the family grown business. Both my mother and father started small home town businesses. One of the smart things they did was buy instead of rent their business property. This gave them the ability to plan their finances with less uncertainty.

    It’s a simple fact, in business or in residential living… the way to control your own destiny is to be an owner. If you’re a renter, you are at the mercy of the landlords.. plain and simple. No use crying about rising rents due to gentrification. Become an owner and insulate yourself.

    • I come from a similar background except that my family grown business was in a large city with locations in huge office buildings. it was not possible for us to own our locations and were always at the mercy of landlords. As much as we would have liked to insulate ourselves, it was not possible. We always had to be thinking of alternate locations.

  42. Evalia is one of the sweetest women I have ever met. She is smart and kind and truly cares about her customers. I no longer live on Echo Park Avenue and have moved to Highland Park, but when I did live in EP, I would always buy needed items from Evalia and she always had a smile on her face and when my mom passed on, she even cried with me. I wish her much love and peace and I hope only good things come her way. What an amazing woman.

  43. I hope they open a nude bar ,yummy

  44. I hope they open Nude joint

  45. Very sad, indeed. I simply want to add my voice to what’s already been said. She and the store will be missed.

  46. KEEP EL BATEY!!!

    All of the employees are kind and helpful.. The market is an asset to the neighborhood. We love Evelia.


    A 300% rent increase is outrageous.

  47. Can someone explain to me why one store owner should be immune to market forces? Is this owner special for some reason? Just because you’ve operated a shop for 41 years you get a pass for a dirty, uninspired shop that most people don’t want to shop at?

    A company owns the space. They invested money to own the building. The shop owner has decided to lease a space, meaning they do not OWN that space… OK, so why should the building owner not be able to capitalize on the investment risk they made in purchasing this building, now that the market in the area can support a business that makes more $$?

    There are plenty of lower priced retail locations that this shop could slide into. sure it won’t be such a premium location like echo park ave, but this isn’t china or russia yall. business owners can run their businesses as they please. if you don’t like it why don’t you move to russia?

    i’m really dumbfounded that people most people are voicing support of a business that clearly wasn’t growing or adding to the local economy. We’re all better off with businesses that actually TRY HARDER.

    • Where is your proof that “the market in the area can support a business that makes more $$?” If Chango or other business nearby had their rent increased 300% do you think they would stay in business? How long will the new Wood Pizza, on Sunset and Silver Lake, stay in business? Do you think they will stay in business as long as the old burger place they replaced?

      • Echo Park Devil's Advocate

        The 300% increase doesn’t mean anything unless we know how much El Batey was already paying. If they were paying the market rate and their being singled out and asked to pay 300% over, then yeah, evil landlords. But I think it’s more that they were previously paying WELL BELOW market rate and are now being asked to come up to the levels that places like Chango already pay.

        • So, how much rent do you all think El Batey should be paying? $1000 (2008 rates)? Should the new owner continue to subsidize this below market rate? Would you all be willing to contribute monthly to help Evelia make up the difference between what she’s paying now and the new lease? She sounds like a true treasure…..

        • You don’t know if her current rate is close to the going rate and the 300% increase is greed on the part of the new owners. You just ASSsume, the she is paying below market rent.

          • David, please be polite. I’m not ASSuming anything. Last new report said she was paying $1000 and landlord was looking to increase it to $3000. That was 2008. Evalia stayed. You clearly don’t know what the current rate is, why don’t you just answer the questions?

          • eastsidearts you clearly don’t know what she is paying either. Or else you would have told us! Thanks again for ASSuming.

          • As of 2008 the rent was $1000, which was difficult to make. Evidently El Batey was able to come to an agreement and stay in that location. So my question stands: what do you think she should be paying? If it is considerably below current market rates should the new owner subsidize that? Would you and others be willing to contribute monthly to make up the difference between what El Batey brings in and the new lease? Evelia is obviously loved and treasured by the community, so instead of just buying up the shop why don’t you think of other possible solutions?

  48. Evelia had made plans to renovate and update her space, and even showed these plans to the landlords and they just want her out, plain and simple. She has made every good faith effort to grow with the neighborhoods changing demographic. The negative comments on this article are clearly from people who have never met Evelia. Thanks for your inaccurate take on this situation! Super helpful.

  49. This kind of egregious behavior on the part of the landlord underscores the need for some kind of commercial rent control. If Evelia was a residential tenant, the new owner might be required to minimally compensate her for evicting her or perhaps be subject to limits on how much the rent could be increased at one time (let’s be honest, a 300% rent increase is equivalent to an eviction notice). Why aren’t the same protections available for small businesses? (Clearly, if Evelia had gone out of business due to simply not adapting her business as some have implied above that would be one thing, her being forced out of her location by someone else is what’s at issue here). Shifting demographics and changing communities are understandable, that is part of how societies evolve. Also understandable is any investor’s need to earn money. What is totally unacceptable is the manner in which the landlord is treating this family. For a new owner to come into a community and demonstrate a total lack of respect for it’s current residents/tenants and have no understanding of the role they have played in the neighborhood is disturbing, from both a business and a human standpoint. There is a way to conduct business & make profit without engendering the animosity and contempt of the community you are entering, and as evidenced by the numerous posts above, this is simply not it. They could request a reasonable rent increase, or if they really want the space vacant which is their right by law, they could negotiate a gracious transition, allowing the tenant time to clear inventory, establishing some compensation or at the very least, recognizing the vital role that this one small business has played in the community for the past 50 years in order to make it the very kind of neighborhood they are now looking to turn a fast buck in. I am not suggesting they be charitable, it’s in their own best interest to act ethically. Bottom line: They may get their 300% increase and succeed with this eviction but it will be a short sighted gain, because it will have come at the expense of the goodwill, respect & purchasing power of their new neighbors.

    • So, how much rent do you all think El Batey should be paying? $1000 (2008 rates)? Should the new owner continue to subsidize this below market rate? Would you all be willing to contribute monthly to help Evelia make up the difference between what she’s paying now and the new lease? She sounds like a true treasure…..

      • The rent they are asking for is not in line with current market prices in the area. Other available retail spots in surrounding Echo Park, Silver Lake and Los Feliz are advertised at an average of $1.75 per square ft. They are asking El Batey to pay $4 a square ft.

    • Absolutely Dana! Spot on!

  50. it would seem to me that after 50 years of giving to the neighborhood and community in which it operated, serving those in need and being at the heart of sharing and listening as only family can for three generations, a little more consideration would be afforded in the spirit of humanity. Change is always assured but should never be at the expense of the human element. Perhaps some leniency is in order.

    • Beautifully stated and I could not agree more. Imagine what the world would look like if the organizing principles of our society were based in humanity rather than profit.

      • So, how much rent do you all think El Batey should be paying? $1000 (2008 rates)? Should the new owner continue to subsidize this below market rate? Would you all be willing to contribute monthly to help Evelia make up the difference between what she’s paying now and the new lease? She sounds like a true treasure…..

        • How many times are you going to copy and paste this exact same question, with exact same spacing and punctuation, into the comment thread? (Better question, I guess, is how does spam like this get past the alleged moderation here…)

  51. Dear Landlord – I have been apart of the EP community for 10 years and have supported this store and other retailers on the block ever since. We need to keep this store as it doesn’t just offer services to the folks upstairs but the whole community. I have seen it in person how the great everyone that walks in the door with respect and a smile. I don’t always like getting the car and driving to TJ or Von’s and she carry’s it all. It’s nice to walk around at night and when you stick your head in there it’s like speaking to good friends. Other communities lack that personal touch so please don’t let that happen to our block. Reach a compromise that is good for both your operation and us please.

  52. I support the Pack family and what they have done here for 48 years. It’s really is a tragedy if M West Holdings puts this business out. They are not just a good business but we actually need them. Please let them remodel the room and continue to serve the community that they love being apart of.

  53. Echo Park Devil's Advocate

    In a previous comment I misspelled they’re. It was driving me nuts but I couldn’t correct it. Please forgive me. 😉

  54. This is just awful.

  55. Wow.. wow .. wow.. really?? El Batey and Doña Evelia are the glue of the neighborhood, the history of Echo Park. Her business is one of the main reasons I was attracted to this area and the MAIN reason I have stayed for many years since. Why is that developers believe their improvements are for the larger good? Please reconsider this decision and respect the history – You are now the steward of a very special block in Echo Park. Please consider the people who live here.

  56. So, how much rent do you all think El Batey should be paying? $1000 (2008 rates)? Should the new owner continue to subsidize this below market rate? Would you all be willing to contribute monthly to help Evelia make up the difference between what she’s paying now and the new lease? She sounds like a true treasure…..

    • Okay, Eastsidearts, we know you can copy and paste, but we’ve seen this comment several times already.

      • Chris, it’s a valid question. Why don’t you answer it?

        • How about $1.75 a sq ft? The rent they are asking for is not in line with current market prices in the area. Look up listings for available retail spots in Echo Park and even surrounding areas. You’ll see advertised asking prices around $1.75 per square ft. They are asking El Batey to pay $4 per square ft.

        • After your countless cut and paste comments, you finally give some numbers! So, even somebody like you can figure out $4/sq ft. is out of line with the rents you showed. Maybe not way out of line with the highest rent you posted, $3.20.

          • So, what’s next then genius? Are you welling to help make up the difference on a monthly basis? Offer to negotiate with the owners? DO SOMETHING? I do cut and paste because you need some perspective! “”Maybe I should sell soy milk or some organic things,” Evelia offered, conceding that the neighborhood long ago went crunchy on her.

            Change will be tricky because, quite frankly, Evelia would prefer to keep things the way they are. But unless the building’s owner goes easy on the rent increase, neither her sense of tradition nor her supporters’ sense of nostalgia may be enough to keep El Batey open.

            So what about this: Maybe there’s a way to carve up Evelia’s space and persuade her to share it with other merchants who would also share the rent.

            Evelia told me she was reluctantly open to the idea, especially if she shares the space with just one other merchant. But with so much artistic creativity in Echo Park, and oodles of love for Evelia, there’s got to be a way to re-imagine the space as an arcade that’s part farmer’s market, part crafts and art gallery, part bookstore and part grocery store, with Evelia in place as queen of the parade.”

            From January 2008


          • eastsidearts you kept harping about whether or not her rent was in line with rent for other retail space. Now you were proven wrong, that in fact the new rent is out of line, you put the blame back on Evelia for not adapting to the changing neighborhood.

            While every business needs to adapt to the changing market, Evelia was hit with an unreasonable rent increase that will make her rent out of line with other retail space in the area. Even a genius like you can see that right? Or do I need to type slower for you?

  57. As part of the effort to help Evelia keep her store and come to some kind of agreement with MWest holdings, we are collecting stories of Evelia’s kindness and value to the community.

    Please send any anecdotes and notes of support you are willing to contribute to [email protected]

    Join the facebook event created to help buy out her inventory

    Contact MWest Holdings, the new owner, or Polaris Property Management, an MWest subsidiary that is now managing the building, to express your displeasure.

    Here’s a bit more info gathered by one of the members of the facebook event:

    MWest Holdings http://www.mwestholdings.com is a large real estate investment corporation principally owned by Karl Slovin and his father Bruce Slovin, trying to get in touch with the Slovins is next to impossible, as they live behind the walls of a virtual fortress of wealth. They are based out of New York with offices in California, Indiana, Florida, and Texas; basically, they own commercial and residential investment property nationwide.

    Polaris Property management, http://polaris-pm.com, is a subsidiary of MWest, they are their local property management company here in Los Angeles, you can email them at [email protected]. If your curious, here’s a link to a list of their residential holdings: http://www.mwestholdings.com/residential_property.html.

    Finally, the icing on the cake here is that MWest also owns a “non-profit” organization called RNLA or Restore Neighborhoods LA- They’ve received large government housing grants to take bank foreclosed homes in lower income neighborhoods, fix them up and sell them back to lower income and first time home buyers http://www.rn-la.org/content.php?pgID=128. Also see their FB page, https://www.facebook.com/IHOMELA.

    And YES, I shop at El Batey regularly.

  58. Evelia and the store will be missed if she’s forced to close down. I left Venice to get away from whitewashing – there is no sense of community when that happens. This is very sad for Echo Park.

    • Your comment is racist and hurts any argument that you’re trying to make. (I’m referring to your use of the term “whitewashing.”)

      • When I looked-up the definition of “whitewashing” race or ethnicity was not cited. In the context of this situation, it’s use is obviously referring to the act of erasing or “whitewashing” the presumably bad or unfavorable elements of our community to facilitate its exploitation by investors and developers NOT particularly interested in cultivating or maintaining a sense of community. Accordingly, get over yourself and stop being so sensitive. Your background, lifestyle, or manner of dress may distinguish you as being exotic or threatening to the historically working-class residents of EP but NOT the color of your skin. Too many transplants seem to have completely lost the plot remain oblivious to the inherent of appeal of NELA communities in the first place, which is NOT racial conflict.

        • I was following your argument until the last convoluted sentence. Nevertheless, I get your point: Erica’s statement wasn’t racist. I’m not sure where you searched for the definition, but this site’s definition jibes with my understanding of the term.


          • James, too many transplants seem to have completely lost the plot and remain oblivious to the inherent of appeal of NELA communities in the first place: seamless working-class diversity and urban-suburban grit NOT racial/ethnic conflict, which is what they’re constantly expressing fear and insecurity about. GET OVER YOURSELVES. Simply being “white” is not exotic or threatening to longtime NELA residents, including equally poor and working-class anglos. Being wealthy enough to displace less wealthy residents and businesses is.

    • Erica, there is no sense of community with racists like yourself in them.

    • I think you’re being sensitive and overreacting as many of you guilty/insecure newcomers are prone to do. FACT IS that NELA including EP has historically been a racially diverse community of Asians, Hispanics and whites. Race has never been a huge issue between equally working-class or poor residents. That the wealthy seem to disproportionately be of a single race/ethnicity is another issue, but that latent insecurity is just one of the most disturbing elements being pumped into our community by too many newcomers. Otherwise, this is primarily a class issue. The poor working-class with deep roots in this community resent being discriminated against because they are not wealthy and/or privileged enough to remain and enjoy the peace and prosperity that they earned and cultivated. The sooner newbies and transplants grasp this historical fact about our community the sooner we’ll be able to unite around shared interests and quality-of-life issues without the race-baiting of certain “Sadd” individuals.

      • So I am a race baiter because someone else used the R-A-C-I-S-T term of “whitewashing”? You are delusional, Proper Dos.

        • It’s called context. Look it up. Anglos, Hispancs, and Asians have co-existed throughout NELA for generations. Therefore, in ThaT context, “whitewashing” is obviously referring to investors and developers “whitewashing” or erasing the historical character and presumably unfavorable blemishes of an established community to make it more palatable to a wealthier demographic. We get it. If some people perfer to instead drill into everyone’s head that the wealthier demographic is disproportionately of a single race, that is the baggage they’re arriving with. It’s not an issue that we’ve ever had to deal with in NELA. Particularly in the flatlands where working-class is the condition that everybody once shared.

  59. As a somewhat new edition to the neighborhood (lived here 5 years now), most of what has drawn me to the neighborhood has slowly degraded and began to fall away. Starting with the obnoxious townhomes next door to the Grafton building, we all saw what was to come.

    If the greedy fools at MWest Holdings think the community is going to support their new business they’ve got another thing coming.

    It’s not about changing times and cultural landscapes. It’s about a greedy holdings company moving in and trying to make a pretty penny. They will most certainly be successful in regards to the apartments upstairs, but we the community have clearly shown we will not support whatever ends up replacing this landmark of a local business.

    I beseech everyone here that’s upset to do more than just complain on the internet together. Let’s make our way to the storefront, buy all we can to support her (as their actions are legal, however immoral), and once she’s gone let’s make setting up a new business their hell.

    • Yes, i totally want to help you after you called my home ‘obnoxious’. Way to reach out for support Eric. I shop at El Batey almost every day, and have gotten to know Evalia very well, She is a wonderful, warm, and non-judgmental person. But you? You’re just a di*k.

  60. IHeartEchoPark

    1) Is this a sad state of affairs? Yep.
    2) Could MWest Holdings have handled it differently? Yep.
    3) Were they obligated to? No.
    4) Should they have? It would have been nice given the quote in their press release “the sense of community
    its retail spaces give this strip of Echo Park Avenue.” http://www.mwestholdings.com/images/press/020614.pdf their actions seem contrary to their published statements. Also their email addresses don’t seem to work. Hmmm.
    5) Could this have been avoided? Maybe. Change is hard for anyone. I think we all know that. And I understand it, no lease was signed granting any sort of protection to the tenant. Sadly — it all seems like a repeat of 2008 — From Steve Lopez’ Article in the LA Times: ” Change will be tricky because, quite frankly, Evelia would prefer to keep things the way they are. But unless the building’s owner goes easy on the rent increase, neither her sense of tradition nor her supporters’ sense of nostalgia may be enough to keep El Batey open.” http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jan/23/local/me-lopez23 and looking at the store, not much looks different from how it is described 6 years ago. One doesn’t want to burden the “victim” but there seems to have been opportunity in 2008 to set up some protection via leases and changing the store itself and product in stock to keep up with the demographic changes.
    6) Looking at this storefront over time it appears to have been many things– a drug store, jewish deli, printers, el batey, coffee bar (chango), and now it will be something else.
    7) One only wishes that MWest could have approached another way. I’m not sure what they have to gain by being quite so indifferent.


  61. It seems that there was a huge delivery-truck accident at this very corner back in 1935. You can see the corner (where present-day Chango and El Batey #2 are located) at 1:00 and 1:54. Luckily nobody was hurt.


  62. OK, lets do something , ” Don’t support any business that rent from MWEST HOLDING BOYCOTT on Echo park Avenue !!!!!!! . Take back our community , This is my community I own my home , I just hate all the BS from outsiders ,

  63. Ecky de Echo Park

    So I’ve been reading all the back & forth and find myself incensed like most of you by comments on both sides of this predicament. I am wholeheartedly guilty of the black & white arguments and defiant stands that seemingly not only plague our United States Congress with Democrats & Republicans, but affect us even at the most minuscule neighborhood level . So, let’s all take a step back, and take a deep, deep breath. Breathe with me…. Let’s pretend we are all but children for a second. What if there was a happy ending to this story? Once upon a time…..

    1) THE VILLAIN HAS A HEART- Turns out MWest Holdings is not an evil, greedy corporation. Behind the curtain, we find that they are human beings, who, while trying to make a profit, didn’t know the whole story. In fact, after hearing about all the comments on the Eastsider, they relate to the plight of Evelia and El Batey from their own parents and grandparents who were hard working immigrants who settled in the States for a better life. MWest Holdings come to see that Evelia and El Batey are more than just a store, but the part of the glue that keeps the local Sunset North Echo Park community together. They come to understand that Evelia is an integral part of the character that is actually driving new people to the apartments they own in Echo Park. MWest Holdings raises the rent on Evilia 50% roughly $1.70 per square foot, the going rate, They give her 6 months to update and renovate. Within a couple years they make more than triple their money on renting to the professionals, bohemians, and artists that are moving in upstairs, who ultimately don’t want just another chain store downstairs.

    2) THE ARMY UNITES – Come Saturday, all the love Evelia has poured into her neighborhood customers over the last almost 50 years, results in a groundswell of support as over 500 local residents buy out every last item in El Batey. Even the last bag of flaming hot red cheetoes is purchased by heckler Jer himself.

    3) THE PROTAGONIST MAKES A CHOICE- Evelia and the Pack family understand their business needs to update to meet the needs of a changing neighborhood. WIth the store empty, and proceeds from the one day buyout, they renovate, update, and add to their inventory of beans, tortillas, candy, & pan dulce to include tofu, vegan popsicles, range free eggs, and whatever else the insatiable Echo Park newcomers crave.

    4) THE STORYTELLER RETURNS- Steve L, himself, comes back to Echo Park & EL Batey to write a story nearly 6 years later about how corporate greed, gentrification, and development, are no match for a united neighborhood & a gentle, kind, and loving old woman who cares more about others than a silly old dollar.

    Victory: MWest Holdings
    Victory: Evelia and the Pack family
    Victory: The Eastsider
    Victory: Echo Park
    Victory: Us

    THE END.

    • IHeartEchoPark

      holy crap. this is so common sensical that it could work and everyone wins. I just emailed it to Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell. Full credit to you of course. Maybe it can be a proposal to MWest.

    • I find it interesting that among the 100+ comments and suggestions here, nobody is focused on what Evelia herself said she wants. From the article:

      “Now, she’s seeking public support to buy more time in the building … to sell off inventory and wrap up her affairs.
      What will Evelia do when the store closes? ‘I will just go home.'”

      Based on this quote, it seems to me that Evelia isn’t interested in retooling her store and changing her product mix to appeal to a new demographic; she just wants more time to wrap things up. I think it wouldn’t hurt to ask Evelia herself – not her son – to reiterate what she would like to see happen.

    • Not enough fairy dust to make this one happen. But I could see it as a story on Lifetime television for women… might have to add a Fabio character to your fairytale, though.

  64. Evelia is like a grandmother to the community. Especially for the women that lived at 1551 Echo park in the 90’s-Early 2000’s. In addition to contributing to the warmth of Echo Park Ave., Evelia has upheld the common cultural and historical heritage of the area.
    It will be a completely different place without her.
    I think the new landlords are as greedy as the FCC with doing away with net neutrality.
    This is horrible and the M West holdings will meet KARMA.

  65. Evelia: You will be forever missed and remembered in our hearts.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *