EAGLE ROCK — Colorado Boulevard in recent years has attracted many new restaurants and bars serving up everything from micro brews and burgers to champagne cocktails and English pea risotto. While Eagle Rock’s expanding dining and drinking scene has been welcomed by many residents, it turns out many of these new Eagle Rock businesses are breaking the law. Their crime? Staying open past 9 p.m.
The same city ordinance that has been credited for creating a more lively Colorado Boulevard also contains a provision that all new businesses – including restaurants and bars – need special city permission to operate after 9 p.m. Many of the new businesses have never bothered to get that permission or are simply ignoring the curfew in the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan Ordinance.
The mandatory closing time applies to businesses that opened after the 1992 ordinance went into effect. The provision requiring city permission to operate between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. went pretty much unnoticed until a new Eagle Rock sports bar – 5 Line – recently got in trouble over the issue. Now, city officials are trying to figure out a solution without having to re-do the entire ordinance.
The issue has created confusion and puts new businesses, like the 5 Line, which opened earlier this year, at a disadvantage compared to older bars and restaurants that are not covered by the 1992 ordinance.
“Things are kind of a mess,” says David Greene of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. “There is a patchwork of new and old businesses along Colorado. Some are violators of the municipal code who are right next door to other places who can stay open past 9 p.m. This is an unpopular code.”
The problems caused by the 9 p.m.closing came to light in a story published by the Boulevard Sentinel about city inspectors who visited the 5 Line after a complaint was filed. The website of the 5 Line, which is part of the adjacent Big Mama’s and Papa’s pizzeria, says that it’s open until 9:30 p.m.
“Nobody really follows that rule,” says 5 Line manager Robert Hamil of the 9 p.m. curfew. “Two years ago we had Big Mama and Papa’s Pizzeria, and we stayed open later than 9 p.m. and no one said anything. It’s because we’re new and we have a liquor license.”
Included in 5 Line’s conditional use permit to serve alcohol is a clause stating that the sports bar will not operate after 9 p.m. 5 Line also can’t have a happy hour or any exterior signs advertising alcohol. Any exemptions would have to go through the Planning Department.
Many other new Colorado Boulevard businesses operate past 9 p.m., such as Little Beast, which opened its doors last year, The Oinkster, which opened in 2006, and Cafe Beaujolais, which has been on Colorado nearly two decades.
The 9 p.m. curfew is one of the provisions in the ordinance designed to ensure that nearby residents are not disturbed by businesses. Other restrictions and provisions included in the ordinance deal with parking, business signs facing Colorado Boulevard as well as the 9 pm. closing.
Councilmember Jose Huizar has received numerous requests from Eagle Rock residents to update the plan.
“Councilmember Huizar will support whatever the community/business consensus is but there needs to be a thorough public discussion first,” says Huizar’s communications director Rick Coca.
Taco Spot, another Colorado Boulevard restaurant, closes its doors at 9 p.m., but owner Joshua Lewis is not a fan of the restriction. “It’s disconcerting to know that if we wanted to stay open past a certain hour that we can’t.”
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.