Bungalow closes after eight years; city enforcement action commenced in 2009

| August 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

SHUTTERED. The Larchmont Bungalow closed its doors Aug. 1, after an eight-year-long battle with the city for operating as a restaurant without a permit.

In 2009, the City of Los Angeles had expected the then-new Larchmont Bungalow to open and operate as an establishment that primarily sells “food to be consumed off-premises” in accordance with its permit. It did not. Now, after years of legal battles, during which the owners sought a liquor license and a delivery service and explored a franchise, the city finally forced the supposed take-out establishment that actually opened as a sit-down restaurant to shut down.

“Nobody ever thought we’d have to battle this long and this hard over this,” deputy city attorney Serena Christion said last month, as the criminal case came closer to a resolution.

On Aug. 7, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner H. Elizabeth Harris placed the Bungalow on diversion and set the next court date for Feb. 7, 2018.

“It’s an earned dismissal,” said Christion. If the Bungalow parties adhere to the rules, “then [in six months] the case gets dismissed.”

In court Aug. 7, Vicki Podberesky, the latest new attorney for Larchmont Village Partners, LLC (the company managed by the late Mr. Albert Mizrahi), told Commissioner Harris that the Bungalow had closed Aug. 1 and had paid its fines.

Back in Feb. 2016, the Bungalow had been ordered by the criminal court judge to either comply by removing its tables and chairs and to apply for a certificate of occupancy or close by Aug. 7, 2017. This was part of a plea deal with Mr. Mizrahi, owner of both the restaurant and the building. He died in August 2016.

After the court hearing last month, Podberesky said she didn’t know what the current manager of the LLC, Mrs. Renee Mizrahi, planned to do with the property.

The large premises, at 107 N. Larchmont, could be subdivided into retail and take out, once the required permits are obtained, said Todd Maland, investigator with the city Dept. of Building and Safety.

City resources expended

Besides several city inspectors, the criminal case involved some five prosecutors and eight judges, and Christion said she stopped counting after more than 100 court dates. In addition, there were seven judges and 38 court dates on the civil side.

The only money paid by the restaurant company to reimburse the city was $3,633.47

Albert Mizrahi opened the eatery as a take-out in 2009 with tables and chairs. In a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury and prior to the opening, he had acknowledged specifically that the facility would not have tables and chairs. The number of restaurants on Larchmont Blvd. is restricted under zoning laws. The restaurant limit was reached years before Mr. Mizrahi bought the property and opened his restaurant (when only new take-out establishments were allowed).

As a result of Mr. Mizrahi’s commencement of business as a restaurant — with tables and chairs — and not as a take-out, the city almost immediately revoked the location’s required certificate of occupancy.

The Larchmont Bungalow served the public without a certificate of occupancy from October of 2009 until its closure last month.

Civil case also ends

Alongside the criminal case was the civil lawsuit.

Mr. Mizrahi had filed a lawsuit against the city seeking multiple kinds of redress and claiming that he was a victim of discrimination. Although the city won that case, which was dismissed in 2015, it served for years to delay the criminal prosecution. In addition, Mr. Mizrahi’s attorneys sought exemption from the Boulevard’s Q Condition zoning through various City Planning Dept. appeals. The city, however, as well as the civil court judges, found no cause for any exemption, and the criminal case finally moved forward.

However, because of a successful appeal by the Mizrahi attorneys of a technicality in the courts’ 2015 dismissal of the civil case, that case was scheduled to return for a status conference at the civil trial court last month, with trial scheduled for October.

But Mrs. Mizrahi’s lawyer last month moved to have the civil case dismissed, and it was.

“The civil lawsuit against the city was voluntarily dismissed on Aug. 4, 2017. The dismissal fully terminates the civil lawsuit. Any dates that were on calendar have been vacated,” deputy city attorney Jennifer Tobkin confirmed via email.

Tags: , , ,

Category: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *