MAIN STREET — A restaurant has been busted by City Hall for operating as a nightclub by allowing people to dance and drink without having to order food.
The owners of 31Ten Lounge on Main Street plead no contest last month to 11 misdemeanor counts of violating the restaurant’s permit and agreed to 30 months of probation, during which time the owners will not be able to participate in any pub-crawls; will not be able to provide bottle service to customers without also serving meals; cannot hire a DJ; must pay over $7,200 in restitution to City Hall to cover the cost of prosecution and the investigation; pay thousands more in court fines and fees; and allow people of any age to enter after receiving alcohol service training by the Santa Monica Police Department.
Officials with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office also said in a news release issued Tuesday that 31Ten will not be allowed to check IDs at the door or make people wait in line outside.
“This is a positive and fair result,” said Santa Monica Police Lt. Mohamed Marhaba, who is in charge of the department’s Vice Unit. “All businesses, including restaurants, must operate within their permit conditions.”
Under the Municipal Code, restaurants cannot become nightclubs or bars without first getting a proper permit and review from City Hall. Those that do not get permission can create public safety problems and become a nuisance to neighbors, Marhaba said.
“The police department, in cooperation with our code enforcement and City Attorney’s Office partners, will continue to aggressively and evenhandedly enforce local laws that protect public health, safety and welfare,” Marhaba said. “Additionally, the department understands that 31Ten has now committed to changing its operations to comply with local laws. We are very happy about this commitment and we look forward to working with 31Ten, and any other business that needs our assistance, to ensure that they can operate successfully in Santa Monica and within the bounds of the law.”
To demonstrate compliance, 31Ten has brought aboard Ryan Allen Carrillo as a new operating partner. Carrillo told the Daily Press his background is in restaurant management. 31Ten has unveiled a new tapas menu and is incorporating new menu items.
“We are cooperating with the city 100 percent,” Carrillo said. “We understand what the city is trying to do with Main Street and we are behind them. … We are very much a food-based restaurant.”
Prior to taking the owners to court, city officials said they tried working with 31Ten for many months by issuing warnings, and then later a citation with fines. However, those efforts were unavailing and neighbors continued to complain about drunk patrons leaving the lounge late at night, causing a disturbance.
This isn’t the first time City Hall has cracked down on Main Street establishments. Business owners have complained in recent months about increased enforcement by city officials, including ticketing delivery truck drivers for parking in red zones or in center turn lanes. Others have been cited for excessive signage or placing merchandise on sidewalks.
Brick + Mortar, a restaurant at the Edgemar Center, has been targeted by code compliance officers for allegedly hosting football viewing parties and queuing people at the door.
Business owners say the crackdowns are making it difficult for them to remain in business.