City sticks to guns with eatery

The Hermosa Beach City Council stood behind the police chief in a bid to close a Pier Plaza restaurant at midnight, beating back a last minute plea to let it stay open until 1:30 a.m.

After a sometimes agonized debate Tuesday night, the council decided not to fetter Chief Greg Savelli as he prepared to appear before the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency the next morning to ask the ABC to impose the midnight closure on Il Boccaccio restaurant.

Ron and Greg Newman, the owners of Sharkeez restaurant on the Plaza who have made a deal to buy Il Boccaccio, told the council they have been singled out for unfair treatment in the request to move the legal closing time from 1:30 a.m. to midnight. The request by Savelli comes as the ABC reviews the transfer of the Il Boccaccio liquor license to the Newmans from longtime owner Joe Venezia.

“If you can’t be consistent in this city… you’re not going to get anybody to invest in real estate here,” Ron Newman said.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.

Greg, his son, said two nearby eateries, Café Booglaoo and Underground Pub & Grill, were allowed to remain open past midnight when their liquor licenses were transferred to new owners.

“It made me think, it’s just because it’s us,” Greg Newman said.

Savelli said he wrote a letter asking the ABC to impose the midnight closure to hold the line against additional alcohol serving in the downtown area, which has drawn criticism from some residents for rowdiness and excessive noise.

Proponents of the midnight closure for Il Boccaccio said Café Boogaloo and the Underground were allowed to remain open later because that was their practice before the changes in ownership. Il Boccaccio, they said, had been closing at midnight of its own accord, so later hours would mean additional alcohol service downtown.

But Venezia told the council that Il Boccaccio had also been staying open past midnight.

The move to revisit Savelli’s request for a midnight closure was launched by Councilmen Pete Tucker and Howard Fishman, who eventually joined in a unanimous council vote to back the chief. But before the vote, Tucker and Fishman questioned the fairness of the midnight closure.

“My concern has to do with fairness and consistency,” Fishman said.

In addition, he said the downtown has become tamer since 2008, when Savelli wrote the letter to the ABC.

Other council members also bemoaned what they described as a piecemeal council approach to downtown nightlife. The council pledged to meet again to standardize its regulation of the area.

Councilman Jeff Duclos praised Venezia, a master chef, for providing years of fine dining at Il Boccaccio, which earned praise from publications such as “Gourmet” magazine.

Venezia complained that a midnight closure would devalue the liquor license he is selling to the Newmans, and Councilman Kit Bobko said he wanted to find a way to avoid that devaluation. Bobko said he wanted to stand by the police chief, but did not want to “punish the innocent” by making the liquor license less valuable. ER


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