Larchmont Bungalow Closed Yesterday

The Larchmont Bungalow is closed after an 8 year battle with the city over operating permits

It seems the long saga of the Larchmont Bungalow restaurant now includes its closure.  On Tuesday, a simple sign in the windows, now covered over with paper, bid farewell and thank you to those who had supported the restaurant during its conflicted eight-year tenure on Larchmont Blvd.

The timing of the closure may have been prompted by the city’s ongoing lawsuit against the business. “We are in court tomorrow,” said City Attorney Serena Christion. “They have finally done what they have agreed to do all along. How long it lasts, we shall see.”

In February, 2016, Larchmont Bungalow owner Albert Mizrahi pleaded no contest to three criminal counts filed against him by the City of Los Angeles in 2010.  In exchange for probation and suspending his sentencing for 18 months, Mizrahi agreed to bring the illegal restaurant into compliance with City zoning codes.

Last August, Mizrahi passed away, leaving management of the corporation that owns the Bungalow to his wife Renee, who also operates Larchmont Hardwear clothing store. The case against the corporation has continued, and attorneys for Mrs. Mizrahi agreed to secure a certificate of occupancy or close by the next next court date on August 3, 2017.  Christion speculated the closure resulted from the Bungalow’s inability to get a certificate of occupancy from the City because it was operating illegally in violation of Larchmont’s unique street zoning code, known as the “Q” Conditions,  put in place in the early 1990s.  The conditions limit the number of restaurants, banks, and real estate offices, to help preserve local-serving retail uses on the street.

The Bungalow has also had other legal issues, and Christion also won a conviction against the business for fire code violations, to which the Bungalow pled no contest and received a three-year term of probation.

The legal battles orchestrated by Mizrahi and his lawyers stalled for time on the legal charges, so they could keep the restaurant open and continue with re-opening of a civil lawsuit Mr. Mizrahi filed against the city in 2010. Despite two rulings in favor of the City in that case, it will continue before a new judge in a hearing scheduled for August 17.

Much change has come to Larchmont in the eight years since the Bungalow opened…and some say those changes began when Mizrahi’s acquired four buildings on Larchmont (107, 123, 150 and 227) at the height of the market, one year before the great recession of 2008. Mizrahi dramatically raised the rents at those properties, to cover his carrying costs, and the increases resulted in the closure of several long-time tenants, including the hardware store, a dry cleaner and a florist. (Sam’s Bagels held on by refusing to move when no other tenants wanted the space.) As a result, rents all along the street have increased dramatically over the last few years, as much as four-fold, resulting a lot of turnover on the street.

The retail landscape is different too. Trina Turk, Blue Mercury and MAC are recent additions to the street, as more retailers want to get out of shopping malls and offer the “main street” experience for shoppers. There are also many more food options on the street now, with high-end boutique outlets like Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Salt & Straw Ice Cream and Jeni’s Ice Cream…none of which are are small businesses.

Although it has had a controversial tenure, the Bungalow did have a good run by industry standards. According to therestaurantbrokers.com, “the average restaurant’s life span is five years, with up to 90 percent of independently owned restaurants closing in year one.” Tomorrow’s court date for the city’s criminal case against Mizrahi should provide more information about the Bungalow’s closure, and the next steps in the lawsuits.

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[Buzz co-publisher Elizabeth Fuller also contributed to this story.]

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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

5 thoughts on “Larchmont Bungalow Closed Yesterday

  1. It seems to me both you and the city do not understand the nature of business and the benefits that it brings. Mr. Mizrahi’s investment in Larchmont Village has brought with it many improvements which not only benefit the community but the city as well. Better businesses mean more traffic which adds up to more taxes for the city coffers. You and the city bite the hands that feed. Shame on you.

    1. The presence of The Bungalow was visible proof that cheaters and greedy landlords get away with many things if they have the lawyers and the money, whereas people who abide but the law often do not. From the day The Bungalow took over that space we never set foot inside, and we are glad this appears to finally be resolved as it should have been years ago.

  2. I understand the anger by the residents about the ousting of local businesses back in 2008. I hope this gives them some closure on what happened. BUT can we please permit that space as a restaurant now? It really did fill a need for casual dining on the street (hence its long successful run). It would be nice if another restaurant could legally be allowed to operate in that space.

  3. There are many eateries on Larchmont that have table and chairs in violation of the Q conditions. Flywheel opened in violation of Q conditions, yet somehow zoning was changed after the fact to allow it to be legal. Now that some in the community were hell bent to punish the owner and drive them out of business, a marijuana dispensary, The Larchmont Collective, will be opening in the same space. Happy now?

    1. We’re looking into this but note that it’s posted on the outside of the door, which means anyone could have put it there…so there’s at least a good chance it’s just a joke. Medical marijuana dispensaries are very highly regulated at the moment and no new ones are being permitted. When laws change next year, there will be a full permitting process in place, so people won’t be able to open them without considerable city and community review. We’ll be sure to share any news we learn about future tenants in the Bungalow space.

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