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Santa Monica Eatery Closes Soon After Opening, Blames Government Bureaucracy


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January 3, 2019 -- In an unusual move, a Santa Monica restaurant blamed the City, and the California Coastal Commission, for its closure after only four months in business.

The Gables, a daytime cafe near the Third Street Promenade that offered speedy service, opened last August 22 and shut down after its last brunch December 23.

"Unfortunately, our prolonged battle to build the restaurant with the City of Santa Monica and California Coastal Commission left us unable to withstand the early bumps and bruises most new restaurants face," owner Kevin Lazan wrote in a statement posted on Instagram.

The Gables was riding a trend in quick service restaurants where diners order at the service counter, take a number and grab their food from the kitchen.

The speedy system was meant to cut down on costs, but the business may not have taken into account a notoriously slow process at the local and state levels, experts said.

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Businesses, said Robert O. York, a prominent local retail consultant, usually anticipate the process of opening in Santa Monica will likely take longer than in other cities, especially if the Coastal Commission is involved.

"People build in enough time to go through the process," York said. "You need a warchest to build up a business and no everybody's got that."

City Manager Rick Cole said he has asked planning staff to "look at what occurred here for lessons that might make it easier for our small businesses to get open sooner with less cost."

"However," Cole said, "as a city, we also face ongoing concerns from residential neighbors about the impacts of noise, deliveries, traffic and parking from our more than 500 restaurants.

"We find ourselves constantly trying to find the right balance between making it easier for businesses to thrive and ensuring that residents can get a good night sleep and aren’t adversely affected by nearby businesses.

"We are always looking for win-wins that ensure businesses are held to appropriate standards with a minimum of red tape,” Cole said.

Eater Los Angeles, part of a food and dining network of sites, found The Gables' criticism of government unusual.

"This is one of the first times a restaurant has openly blamed local government and a state government organization on its closure," the site wrote.

"The City of Santa Monica in particular is notorious for delaying restaurant openings," the site said.


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