CITY HALL ‚Äî Sometimes sequels are better than the original ‚Äî at least that‚Äôs what the community around the 1500 block of Wilshire Boulevard is hoping.
The former executive chef of the BOA Steakhouse has proposed a new restaurant at 1519 Wilshire Blvd., a site that has been shuttered since The Parlor sports bar closed in 2010.
Larry Greenwood, the man behind the food, wants to create a 186-seat Japanese steakhouse at the location called 1519, and is seeking a permit from the Planning Commission Wednesday night to operate and serve alcohol.
Although residents seem calm when it comes to the style of the joint, Greenwood‚Äôs request to stay open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights is reopening old wounds for some who remember the public battle to put limits on The Parlor three years ago.
The Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition fought tooth and nail against the place, complaining that the location was meant to be a quiet, neighborhood restaurant but operated like a nightclub with doors shutting at 2 a.m. only to spill drunken, noisy patrons onto the block.
The City Council got a chance to regulate the bar when the restaurant increased its floor area by adding a second story in 2008. City officials contended that the change required that The Parlor get a conditional use permit, much like the one that Greenwood is requesting now.
Council members voted to restrict the hours of operation and the business ultimately closed down, much to the joy of nearby neighbors.
Greenwood has already met with members of Wilmont to make his case for the new restaurant, which he says will be nothing like The Parlor of old.
“This is going to be a restaurant,” he said. “This is not a place where people go get drunk and are cheering for some sports event and sprawling out in the street.”
Alcohol sales will not be able to exceed 35 percent of the gross annual revenues, and Greenwood will have to provide 32 off-site parking spaces ‚Äî the previous tenant had none.
Greenwood has also agreed to use double-paned windows to keep noise low, and put a traffic management plan in place to encourage employees and customers alike to use public transportation and carpool.
The experience with the previous establishment left scars, however, and leave some residents nervous about 1519, said Alin Wall, one of the leaders of Wilmont.
“Because of the late closing time, the neighbors are wary as to who the customers will really be,” Wall said, calling the 2 a.m. closing time a “deal breaker” for neighbors.
Planners also noted a conflict with the neighborhood, and recommended cutting an hour off of the closing times, leaving the restaurant open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
That‚Äôs in line with many of the other establishments nearby, although a number ‚Äî including the Dakota Lounge, NY&C Pizza, Izzy‚Äôs Deli and V Lounge ‚Äî serve alcohol until 2 a.m.
Others have the right to do so, but choose to stop alcohol sales earlier.
The only two full service restaurants in the area ‚Äî Rustic Canyon and Melisse ‚Äî are both conditioned to close at 1 a.m., according to the staff report.
Residents living nearby are also concerned about parking, which Greenwood plans to provide off-site using a valet that traverses Wilshire Boulevard.
Reducing impacts on the neighbors is a priority, Greenwood said.
“We will make it so that the valet has a route so it doesn‚Äôt interrupt the residential areas and so forth,” Greenwood said. “We‚Äôre making it so that there‚Äôs not a huge congestion on Wilshire.”
There will also be two parking spaces in front of the building for valet that will operate as a drop-off and pick-up zone to control the car backup in front of the building and on Wilshire Boulevard, he said.
Valerie Griffin, the former chair of Wilmont, says that she is optimistic about the new tenant.
Griffin was very active in the campaign to put limits on The Parlor, but she likes the idea of a neighborhood-friendly restaurant at the site.
“In the right hands, with a good (conditional use permit) as insurance, this location can be transformed from a vacant building, haunted by very bad vibes, into a cool neighborhood place for celebratory meals,” Griffin said.