By Roxanne Brown – Member of Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS)
GJUSTA’S B RATING – TO A RATING AND BON APPETIT AWARD
July 28, 2015 – Gjusta gets B rating from Health Department. Details later.
August 4, 2015 – Bon Appetit nominated Gjusta in its group of possible best new restaurants. Meanwhile, Gjusta is still an unpermitted restaurant with Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) for bakery/take out only.
August 8 – Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset’s (CNS) President Ilana Marosi speaks to Councilman Mike Bonin at the Venice BBQ and says: “Gjusta has been operating illegally for 10 months and now this unpermitted restaurant has a B-rating. Food handlers are not washing their hands. They have dirty fingernails, flies on food, lack of sanitizer. There are reports of food poisoning. Something has to be done.”
August 10 – Gjusta’s B rating is taken down and an A rating goes up.
August 11 – The City of LA’s Associate Zoning Administrator Maya Zaitzevsky issues her 46 page decision approving Gjusta’s “change of use from bakery/take out only” (something it’s never been) to late night restaurant with full line of alcohol and a patio 13 feet from residents’ homes.
August 18 – Bon Appetit picks Gjusta as one of the top ten best new restaurants.
ALCOHOL APPROVAL Zoning’s decision on Gjusta was to be made on what was heard prior to and at Gjusta’s “change of use” hearing last November 13, 2014.
60 concerned neighbors opposing this showed up at the hearing. They sent Zoning and Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) hundreds of multiple-page, detailed letters, with photos and exhibits.
ABC told CNS that usually with so much opposition, an applicant withdraws his application.
On May 6, 2015, Gjusta withdrew its alcohol application. After that, Gjusta then asked patrons to fill out postcards saying they wanted a restaurant with alcohol. Gjusta sent those postcards to the City.
Does a batch of postcards (many from out of area: London, Laguna Beach, Topanga, Chicago, Irvine) carry more weight than several-page detailed opposition letters with maps, photos, and illustrations from nearby affected residents?
Melissa Diner, Venice Neighborhood Council Member (VNC) says she supports Gjusta, because they employ people. Gjusta has been employing people at an unpermitted restaurant (for the past 11 months) with what appears to be a lack of adherence to health department standards and a lack of employee education, training and supervision.
And the City wants to add alcohol (adherence to age and limits – too drunk to drive, employee education, training and supervision) to this mix?
NEIGHBORHOODS FIRST – SAFE AND FUN STREETS
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin promote a campaign of “neighborhoods first with safe and fun streets.”
Do Gjelina/GTA/Gjusta owner Fran Camaj, Councilman Bonin, and Mayor Garcetti want a restaurant serving alcohol until late night every night, 13 feet from their homes?
This likely will be a 24/7 operation as employees clean up after last patrons depart, prep for next day and bake through the night. Why is it OK to impose this on Venice’s Oakwood families?
What happened to keeping alcohol service a minimum of 100 feet from residents’ homes as outlined in Alcohol and Beverage Control’s guidelines? What happened to the right of residents to peace and quiet enjoyment in their homes?
LA Curbed may have expressed it best when they reported Venice architect Glen Irani’s views on restaurants versus office buildings:
Advocating for an office to be built at Sunset and Ocean Front Walk, Irani contended that building a restaurant in that spot “would entail numerous deliveries every day, food trash odors, homeless lurking for food trash, constant vehicular traffic, and possibly a bar or two with loitering drunkards after-hours as most every bar does have …”
Irani is the architect for a proposed office building on Sunset and Ocean Front Walk. The quote above is regarding that project. Nevertheless, it expresses what many Venetians would agree is true regarding office versus restaurant projects.
Prior tenants at 320 Sunset, Gjusta, were 8-10 employees in an office. Camaj, Gjelina/GTA/Gjusta owner, told neighbors and the City that Gjusta “bakery/take out” (neighbors call it the Fakery) would be a less intense use of premises.
LEARN WHAT GJUSTA’S B-RATING MEANS
Gjelina’s Gjusta at 320 Sunset in Venice received a B rating of 82 (3 points lower, 79, is a C rating) out of 100.
Findings in the health department report from July 28 include the following.
“Observed food handlers engaging in food preparation with bare hands and dirty fingernails.”
“Observed commercial fly glue traps above clean utensils and above openable food containers. Observed flies land on cooked pizza, prepared sandwich, and sliced avocado.”
“Observed milk in reach in refrigerator holding at 43 F. Observed cooked pastrami and marques holding at 43 F.” (Dairy and meat products must be stored well below 40 F to avoid bacteria growing)
Good Retail Practice Violations
“Observed food handlers reusing wiping rags without sanitizer on multiple services. Towels without sanitizer must not be reused.”
“Observed mold growth on in ice machine in coffee preparation area.”
“Observed accumulated food debris on tray carts used to store refrigerated salmon. The food items on the tray were not covered.”
“Washing dishes without approved level of sanitizer. No sanitizer at the time of inspection.”
“Observed flies land on dishes and cutting boards.”
“Observed heavy fly accumulation in back patio area.”
Gjusta now has an A rating – 92, a few points above a B. Gjusta previously had an A-rating when serving patrons on trash bins (see photo).
CITY and CITIZENS AT FAULT
In a democracy, citizens get the government they deserve. In LA, where hardly anyone votes, special interests seem to rule with a puppet government.
Mayor Eric Garcetti won the election with approximately 200,000 votes. The City also won the right for the Mayor and the highest paid City Council in the U.S.A. to be elected for five years rather than four. They won this with less than 20,000 votes.
CITY APPEARS TO FAVOR “FAKERY” – GJUSTA
The City “looks into things,” “studies things,” says, “it takes time.” And yet, the status quo remains. Gjusta and similar projects get approved.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, his administration, City Attorney Mike Feuer, and Councilman Mike Bonin seem to support Gjusta in whatever Fran Camaj, owner, and team do or don’t do.
IS THE CITY HARD OF HEARING?
Concerned Neighbors of 320 Sunset (CNS) has now appealed the City’s 46 page decision to approve Gjusta’s “change of use” from “bakery/take out” (which it’s never been) to late night restaurant with patio and full line of alcohol.
The majority of Gjusta’s nearby affected residents in Venice’s historic Oakwood neighborhood DO NOT WANT ALCOHOL TO BE SERVED AT GJUSTA.
CALL TO ACTION
Please call 213-473-7011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org now and express your views. Do copy email@example.com. Do it now or you won’t do it: “No alcohol at Gjusta – 13 feet from residents’ homes!”