The City of Los Angeles announced last Thursday the implementation of the Restaurant and Hospitality Express program, designed to ease permitting headaches and shrink red tape for new restaurants, bars and grocery outlets. Developed with the input of the Central City Association, which reps Los Angeles businesses and has taken a leadership role in the ongoing revival of downtown, the program seeks to dramatically shrink opening times to 6-9 months.
L.A.'s famously onerous bureaucracy has many new kitchens burning cash as they wait anywhere from a year and a half to two years for paperwork and approvals, which require sign-off from half a dozen separate agencies. The Los Angeles Business Journal reports that Steve Springer, General Manager of the recently launched First & Hope Supper Club in Bunker Hill, was pleasantly surprised by the attentiveness of inspectors following Restaurant and Hospitality Express guidelines. First & Hope was among 14 establishments that participated in a pilot version of the program.
The press release accompanying the unveiling of the new permitting scheme is an accidental indicator of just how harrowing navigating Los Angeles' multi-agency alphabet soup can be. There are no less than five City-sponsored acronyms in the single-page document, which outlines "hand-holding assistances [for] restaurateurs" and defines the role of the FSECM, or Food Service Establishment Case Manager, who will be assigned upon request to new businesses and serve as point-person in the newly minted CMN, or Case Management Network, coordinating among multiple agencies to streamline design, permitting and construction.
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Future L.A. restaurant magnates, Squid Ink WYL, or Wishes You Luck.