OK, time for a pop quiz.
As a Newport Beach resident, try and guess what the City Council will allow, and keep in mind that Councilman Steve Rosansky is a restaurant expert (he owns a TOGO in Orange).
Restaurant #1 – A restaurant has many locations in and around Newport Beach. They serve really inexpensive, but very good, Mexican food with an extra flair. Their windows are covered with stickers and they promote an Action Sports lifestyle, sponsoring surfers, skateboarders, and such. They serve beer and wine at ALL of their locations. They are interested in moving to a larger location within the same very busy shopping center in Newport Beach, close to residential neighborhoods, close to other bars and nightclubs, and close to where many, many children are constantly present. And they want to open this newly re-located location with a fully stocked bar serving Margaritas and Bloody Marys.
Restaurant #2 – A restaurant has many locations in and around Newport Beach, including in Corona del Mar and in Westcliff Plaza. They serve really inexpensive, but very good, Mexican food with an extra flair. Their windows are covered with stickers and they promote an Action Sports lifestyle, sponsoring surfers, skateboards, and such. They serve beer and wine at a handful of their locations, but none are located in Newport Beach. They are interested in moving to a larger location within the same somewhat busy shopping center in Newport Beach, close to residential neighborhoods, close to other bars (but no nightclubs), and close to where very few children are constantly present. And they want to open this newly re-located location to expand their dining room and serve beer only, no Margaritas or Bloody Marys.
For which restaurant do you think the City Council will overturn the restrictive Planning Commission and allow to proceed?
And which restaurant do you think the City Council will chastise and kick to the curb for having too many stickers on its windows?
If you don’t know, Restaurant #1 is one of my son’s favorite restaurants. We go to Wahoo’s almost every weekend and will probably go to their newly re-located Fashion Island location, at which, as of yesterday, you can enjoy that aforementioned Margarita and Bloody Mary, in addition to anything else in their FULLY STOCKED BAR. Having personally seen Councilman Rosansky at the Wahoo’s in Costa Mesa on Placentia and at the Fashion Island location, I know that he also enjoys their wonderful Mexican food with that extra flair, within an ambiance of brightly colored stickers, beer and big-screen TVs.
Restaurant #2, however, is a pariah. Chronic Taco’s small Balboa Peninsula location wanted to expand to the empty retail spot next door in 2009. A retail spot which is still EMPTY AS OF TWO YEARS LATER. They, at first wanted to serve beer, but after public outrage at the possibility of having another booze swilling restaurant in Newport Beach (see Planning Commissioner Robert Hawkins’ reaction to Pizzeria Mozza), Chronic Tacos WITHDREW THE BEER PERMIT, and just wanted to expand to accommodate more dining tables. At the City Council meetings, a local resident complained about “the criminal activity at other Chronic Taco locations” (like Westcliff Plaza and CDM?), while others complained about the over-concentration of alcohol establishments, throwing out statistics on how many booze restaurants per capita Newport Beach has…after Chronic Tacos had WITHDRAWN ITS BEER PERMIT. Councilman Rosansky even chastised Chronic Tacos for having stickers on its windows, but the City Council ultimately used parking as the reason for denying expansion.
The story here? A fully stocked bar at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos with an expanded dining room GOOD. An expanded dining room at Chronic Tacos, with no booze at all, BAD.
Confused? Me too. But this is how the City of Newport Beach operates.
Does the City need to revitalize the Fashion Island area? Does the Fashion Island area have lots of residential around it? Does Fashion Island have lots of young children walking around? But the best question, does Fashion Island have lots of FULLY STOCKED BARS AND RESTAURANTS within ONE MILE of their shopping center? Yup, and as of Thursday the 17th, they will have another…with lots of parking available.
Yet, not one peep from residents, not one peep from the City Council, and not one peep from Liquor License Hawk (no pun intended) Commissioner Robert Hawkins.
But where Chronic Tacos wanted to expand? The City is trying to revitalize the Balboa Peninsula. Yes, there is lots of residential around it, and yes there are many young adults living in the area, and yes there are lots of fully stocked bars and restaurants within one mile of the shopping center, and yes, the parking lot is pretty tight, but this was just going to be a restaurant that didn’t even serve beer at minimum, and they were rejected primarily based on reputation alone.
And the spot they wanted to expand to is STILL VACANT.
Sure … Newport Beach is very business friendly … but only in the bustling areas of the City and not where it is needed the most.