The Larchmont Bungalow scored another delay last week in its continuing efforts to postpone the criminal case filed against it by the city in March of 2010 for operating without a permit. If Bungalow owner, Albert Mizrahi, and his attorney, Alan Fenster, are hoping the city will settle the case, they are wrong. City Attorney Serena Christion said she she has no intention of settling. “This case is far from over,” said Christion. “There is no way we are ever going to dismiss this case; I don’t dismiss cases.”
Over the past several years, the Bungalow legal team has lost two motions they filed with the court seeking dismissal; the first asserting owner Mizrahi had been singled out and was being unfairly prosecuted and the second, that Mizrahi did not understand the covenant he signed with the city agreeing to operate as a take-out with no tables and chairs.
“The city won both of those motions leaving Mr. Mizrahi without a defense,” explained Christion. “They tried to appeal those rulings to a higher court and the court refused to hear the case. Now, it’s time plead it out.”
Christion won another case she filed against the Bungalow owner when he pleaded guilty to fire code violations for failing to file for a permit with the fire department and overcrowding. The Bungalow is currently on probation and is subject to frequent inspections by the fire department. According to a city inspector, the restaurant has been shut down four times since the three year probation began last year. The Bungalow can only allow 49 people (including staff) inside the restaurant at any time which is why there is often a line outside.
Meanwhile, Bungalow owner Mizrahi has been telling the court he is working with the planning department to bring the Bungalow into compliance negating the basis of the criminal case. But according to Christion, the criminal case is based on his actions in the past. Last March, Mizrahi filed an application with the planning department for a zone change to become a restaurant, a conditional use permit to sell alcohol and a parking variance to use his current 7 parking spots in lieu of the 25 that would be required for a restaurant the size of the Bungalow (2,474 square feet). No action has been taken on the application.
Shortly after the criminal proceedings against Mizrahi began, he filed a civil suit against the city alleging the city improperly revoked his permit. In January of 2012 the court ruled in favor of the city but Mizrahi’s lawyers continue to file motions to the court asking for reconsideration of their arguments. The most recent motion essentially says, ok, we admit to the facts and we lost but dismiss the case because it has no merit anyway. The petition will be heard by the judge on June 16th.
The next date in the criminal case is June 17.
Editor’s Note: This is a corrected version of earlier story that stated maximum occupancy was 39 people.