Blossom’s location in Silver Lake may be known for its classic Vietnamese food, amazing wine program, and two-tiered dining, but the process of legalizing all of the above wasn’t exactly easy. FE signed onto the project to provide kitchen design and alcohol licensing for the restaurant’s second location.
In terms of kitchen design, FE took the layout provided by the architect and converted it into detailed kitchen schematics that fit into initial concept drawings for both the ground floor and the subterranean level. This entailed finding the necessary kitchen equipment and knowing how logistics, operations, and code compliance would work together cohesively in the space. Additionally, we ensured everything in the back of house was code compliant and up to department standards while also providing plans for the rest of the project.
The opening of this location of Blossom, however, proved to be more difficult than just kitchen design. The restaurant had to obtain a Conditional Use Permit to allow for the sale of beer and wine since the previous tenants had not sold alcohol. This process required collecting community support, attending public hearings regarding the change, and passing amendments through the Silver Lake City Council. We were proud to stand next to our client through the entirety of the process, serving as Blossom’s public representative and spokesperson as we convinced hesitant locals of the value of adding the restaurant to the neighborhood and the positive track record of its owner, Duc Pham.
Additional requirements for opening the restaurants including securing an additional 15 parking spots, facilitating an official Geological Report to allow subterranean dining, and passing a hardship claim that altered the compliance of the ADA restroom due to the disproportionate cost. Now, the restaurant is busy revitalizing the Sunset Junction area with its authentic Vietnamese food, astounding wine program, and underground speakeasy feel.
Photo courtesy of Blossom.
One of our biggest permitting challenges came to us through Tintorera, the newly-opened seafood-centered Mexican food restaurant in Silver Lake. When Mexico City restaurateur Walter Meyenberg approached us about helping him open his first restaurant in the U.S., we immediately started researching the property’s background.
The restaurant’s space looked perfect for what Walter envisioned — a small indoor property for the restaurant’s kitchen and speakeasy and a large adjacent outdoor patio that could seat the bulk of Tintorera’s diners. The main problem? The entirety of the outdoor patio had been illegally constructed by the property’s previous owners, meaning that Tintorera could not legally utilize the patio even though the restaurant previously operating at the address had.
Since the patio had never been legally permitted, FE worked tirelessly to ensure that the outdoor space could remain a dining area by navigating numerous tricky regulations. One of the main problems was that the patio only had one exit, but with the amount of people planned to be seated outside, the space would require two exits. FE was able to lower the necessary number of exits by utilizing planters to limit the size of the outdoor patio. Another problem came as the result of the patio butting up to a residential area, which adds further regulations to a property. The solution came as a 6 foot tall concrete wall to separate the residential area from the restaurant’s property.
Not only was FE able to legally secure the outdoor patio, we also expedited Tintorera’s plans for plan check, which only took two months from start to finish, about half as long as a restaurant normally waits. We ensured everything was up to code at the property, including the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work, which had all been done illegally by the previous tenant. We obtained the necessary health and building permits as well as the alcohol licensing for the outdoor patio and indoor speakeasy.
The process didn’t end there. We continued to help advising on Tintorera during construction due to the inexperienced contractor’s work. At multiple points FE gave recommendations on how to salvage construction that violated codes and regulations, going so far as modifying unapproved finishes that had been installed and advising on the required finishes needed to pass inspections. When we noticed handicapped areas, such as the restrooms and entrances, had been wrongly constructed, we were quick to suggest fixes. All in all, this difficult situation demonstrated FE’s expertise in the permitting arena and our efforts poured into every project.
Now, the restaurant’s selling point is its spacious outdoor patio, which is lined by lush greenery and hanging lights. We’re happy to have been able to legally secure the outdoor patio as well as the interior of the restaurant so that Chef Maycoll Calderon can focus on the amazing food and drink menu that Tintorera has to offer.
Photo courtesy of Wonho Frank Lee.