Restaurant royalty asks HB to keep outdoor dining 

Palmilla assistant manager Mark Martelli, and general manager JD Ciausilli serve a full patio during lunch at their Pier Plaza restaurant on Wednesday. Plaza restaurant owners say outdoor dining is needed for them to survive. Photo by Kevin Cody

by Kevin Cody

Hennessey’s Tavern’s Paul Hennessey; Sharkeez’s, and Palmilla’s Ron Newman; Brews Hall’s partners Mike Zislis, and Adam Goldberg; and Patrick Molloy’s Fiona Fleming were among the Pier Plaza restaurant owners who addressed the Hermosa Beach City Council Tuesday night. Their concern was potential rent increases on the Plaza dining patios that encroach on city property.

The 12-foot deep encroachments, which run the lengths of the restaurants’ frontages, were approved in June 2020 to assist restaurants, which were not allowed to serve indoors because of COVID health restrictions. The COVID era encroachments nearly doubled the previously allowed outdoor Plaza dining areas. 

In November, the council agreed to extend the COVID era encroachments until May 1. Also in November, the council instructed the city staff to develop a permanent plan for Pier Plaza patios, as well as the COVID era dining decks that have been allowed to displace Hermosa and Pier avenue parking spaces.

The city has issued approximately 60 permits for dining on outdoor city property, according to a staff report presented at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The same report found that current market rates for outdoor dining are as much as 300 percent more than the $1.50 per square foot the city began charging ub January for 12-foot encroachments. Redondo Beach charges its restaurants $2 per square foot for outdoor dining decks. Manhattan charges $3 per square foot, according to the Hermosa staff report..

Hermosa’s Revenue would double from $582,00 annually to $1.6 million annually were the city to apply market rates to both the pre pandemic and the temporary pandemic dining patios on public property.

Hennessey told the council at its Tuesday meeting that the Pier Plaza patios offer 450 additional seats for diners, creating 50 jobs. 

Zislis, who also owns restaurants in Manhattan Beach, began his address to council by noting, “Manhattan Beach cruelly killed outdoor dining. This offers Hermosa a great opportunity to be a shining star.”

Last week, the Manhattan Beach City Council ordered restaurants to dismantle their street dining decks by February 28, when the State declared COVID State of Emergency is scheduled to end.

Zislis’ partner Goldberg told the council, “70 percent of our Pier Plaza restaurant customers sit on the patio. Without outdoor dining, it would be impossible to survive.”

Molloy’s Fleming also said outdoor dining accounts for 70 percent of her revenue. “It’s what enabled us to catch up on the rent we fell behind on during the pandemic,” she said.

Newman proposed the council appoint a commission to develop an outdoor dining plan, similar to the Economic Development Strategy Committee established at the start of the pandemic. The committee is composed of council members, planning commissioners, business owners and residents.

All of the council members expressed support Tuesday night for retaining the outdoor dining on city property, but all also expressed support for significantly increasing the rental rate

“The fees have to go up. The question is how much and how quickly,” Mayor Raymond Jackson said.

Following over an hour of public comments and council discussion, the council unanimously approved a motion by Councilman Justin Massey to direct staff to review dining encroachment rates, based on size, location, and seasons, both on and off Pier Plaza. The motion also directed staff to encourage Sharkeez and Palmilla to apply for conditional use permits for their rooftop dining, which the council gave temporary approval to during COVID. ER


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