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Cucina Alessa's patio alcohol permit up for review

City met Wednesday to decide if the downtown restaurant should extend its patio hours and expand the number of tables, in addition to serving alcohol there.

June 01, 2011|By Mona Shadia, mona.shadia@latimes.com

A downtown restaurant owner who had a public battle with a local activist for wanting to serve alcohol in his outdoor dining area may soon get what he wants.

Huntington Beach Zoning Administrator Ricky Ramos was expected to determine Wednesday whether Alessandro Pirozzi, Cucina Alessa's owner, can extend his alcohol services to customers dining on his patio. The public meeting was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Staff is recommending approval of Pirozzi's request, saying it does not conflict with city policy. The decision can be appealed to the Planning Commission.

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Expanding alcohol licenses in the downtown area has long been a touchy subject for residents who live there. Downtown has a high concentration of establishments that serve alcohol, outweighing the rest of the city. The city also has the highest number of DUIs in the state for its size. DUIs, burglaries, rape and other criminal activities are concentrated and more likely to occur downtown than anywhere else in the city.

Pirozzi filed a restraining order in February against Kim Kramer, the spokesman of the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., after what he said was ongoing harassing visits to his restaurant and threats to employees from Kramer.

Pirozzi said it all began when Kramer found out about his plans to approach the city for permission to serve alcohol on his outdoor patio. He said Kramer told him he would support and help him only if he agreed to serve wine and no other alcoholic beverages.

When Pirozzi refused, Kramer began harassing him and threatening his employees, Pirozzi said.

The restraining order, which was dismissed after the two signed a private agreement, was filed after Kramer visited the popular Italian restaurant on Super Bowl Sunday with a clip board and asked for maximum occupancy information.

Pirozzi has said that extending alcohol service to his customers dining on the patio makes sense for his business. Those who choose to dine on the patio on a warm Southern California night in Surf City's downtown should have that option, he said.

In 1989, the location got permission to serve alcohol inside the restaurant and on the second floor's patio, Associate Planner Tess Nguyen said.

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