Restaurant owner Tony Yanow spoke at the Echo Park Improvement Association (EPIA) meeting Wednesday about plans to transform a vacant theatre on Sunset Blvd into a restaurant called Mohawk Brasserie, which will serve pizza and specialty beers. Reactions from those at the meeting were mixed, sparking a debate between supporters and critics.

The neighborhood blog Echo Park Life, which was started up by a group of locals who are against irresponsible development in Echo Park, recently wrote about the issue. It reads, in part:

The developers are not providing adequate parking to serve such a large customer base and they have plans for long operating hours (open 7 days a week) right across from a new school and within a quiet neighborhood.

Yanow said he intends to run a valet service and rent out space at a nearby car wash in the evenings to fit 80 cars. He also added that he was not required to provide so many parking spaces for customers since the restaurant was in an enterprise zone, but will do so to accommodate the needs of the community.

An enterprise zone is an area in the city designated to increase economic activity and business growth. Businesses within a zone can get perks such as tax credits and reduced parking requirements. Despite the 80 parking spots that would be provided by Yanow, some residents remained skeptical, arguing that more parking is needed to accommodate the more than 200 customers coming in.

Locals also raised concerns about possible lewd behavior from patrons walking out of the restaurant at 2 a.m. Supporters, however, contend that the restaurant would attract clientele who wouldn't cause trouble.

“I think that an important distinction needs to be made,” said Ted Burns, an Echo Park local. “This is a place where people can get a drink or a nice glass of wine and have an enjoyable time,” adding that the place would not attract “frat guys doing shots of jäger.”

Another restaurant supporter, Dave Watrous of Eagle Rock, echoed Burns. “We're not going to get drunk at 2 a.m,” Watrous said. “We're an educated community.”

Many of the supporters in the room were fans of Yanow's other restaurant Tony's Darts Away, which specializes in serving California craft beers in Burbank.

Despite the comments of support, some residents still had doubts. “We don't want to smell or hear anything even if its legal,” said an Echo Park woman who declined to be named, adding that a proposed 64 unit development nearby only compounds the problems facing the neighborhood.

At the end of the meeting Christine Peters of EPIA was encouraged with Yanow's plans to create the valet service to accommodate 80 cars, but said “parking would still be a problem in the neighborhood.”

Mohawk Brasserie: 2141 West Sunset Blvd, Echo Park, (213) 260-0265.

LA Weekly