September 3, 2013

The Story of Wolf & Crane

When we approach our work, we like to think of it as not just navigating red tape, but enhancing our community and evolving with our clients. Little Tokyo bar Wolf & Crane exemplifies that spirit. Their project not only challenged us to do our jobs better, it also inspired us to move our own office into a thriving Los Angeles community.

I first met with Wolf & Crane proprietors Michael Alan Francesconi and Matthew Dean Glaser at the beginning of this year to discuss location. They wanted a location that was not only filled with culture but also with a growing and welcoming community. They’d looked into a few different locations throughout the Los Angeles area, including Echo Park, before settling on the old Matsymoto 2nd Street Jazz Club on 2nd Street in Little Tokyo, on the same block as our new office. We’re neighbors!

Once they chose the location we began extensive research during a due-diligence period to outline all effective entitlements. We found out city entitlements had expired for this location. As a point of strategy, we first transferred a type 47 license with the same license from the previous owners. Then we re-applied for alcohol entitlements to better suit Wolf & Crane’s operations.

I was very concerned about the adjacent residential community being opposed to the introduction of the new conditional use application to re-install alcohol entitlements, so I began a strong residential neighborhood outreach program prior to meeting with city planning. We sought out and contacted local and residential community businesses to introduce the application and met with key community holders to discuss our operation policies and intentions. This process is usually very worrisome, but in this case I found myself lured in to what the Little Tokyo community is doing, how it’s evolving into something greater. I saw that Little Tokyo’s desire to promote and retain culture was stronger than any other Los Angeles community I’d experienced. Wolf & Crane’s neighborhood outreach process ended up being my own introduction to the Little Tokyo community.

In the end we gained approval for the Wolf & Crane project from city planning for alcohol use and from the city building departments for the interior and exterior remodel. I will be more than happy to see the Wolf & Crane guys at their opening date in the near future. For now, I could not be more content moving my office to this culture rich community.