Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved plans for an adapted reuse of The Avenue Theater into three new tenants.
The theater, purchased for $750,000 by the Downey Restaurant Group in 2016, was originally constructed in 1925. As of 2004, it has remained closed.
The proposed plans include two restaurants and an entertainment venue with rooftop lounge. The Downey Avenue façade will also be restored to reflect the façade as it was in the 1960’s.
The two restaurants are currently proposed to be called Avenue Pizza and Crawford Brewery.
According to the project applicant, the pizzeria - to be located at 11022 Downey Avenue – will serve New York style pizza and Italian food, and will include a kitchen area, counter and table seating, as well as a takeout window styled after a ticket booth facing Downey Avenue. The tenant space is 1,954 square feet and be accessed from Downey Avenue.
The pizzeria’s proposed hours of operations are from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week, including a 24-hour delivery service.
Crawford Brewery – to be located at 8310 Third Street – is anticipated to serve southern style barbeque and will be accessed from Third Street. The 3,533-square foot restaurant will consist of a 2,439-square foot first floor and a 936-square foot second floor, with a 158-square foot outdoor patio.
In addition to the restaurant, Crawford will also function as a micro-brewery and will be allowed to sell alcohol for outside consumption under the condition that it is sold in a sealed container.
Crawford will also be allowed entertainment in the form of live bands, DJ, and dancing on the first floor.
Operating hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
The entertainment venue, likely branded as Rockwell, is 11,009 square feet with a 2,199 square-foot rooftop terrace. It will be located at 8312 Third Street.
Due to the venue’s ABC Type 48 (On-Sale General, Public Premise) license that it will be operating under, the business will be restricted to those aged 21 and older. Live entertainment will include live bands, DJs, stand-up comedy, dinner theater shows, karaoke, live shows, dancing, and public speaking events.
All live entertainment will be stopped at 1:30 a.m., including at Crawford.
Crawford and Avenue Pizza will be accessible from Rockwell; however, Rockwell will not be accessible vice-versa. The applicant voiced intent to have trained staff man the doors to prevent any entrance to Rockwell from the other two tenants.
There was considerable push back by Commissioner Steven Dominguez on the 3 a.m. closing time for Avenue Pizza, who voiced concerns for public safety as well as keeping steadfast in his intent to stick to the precedent that had been applied to other Downtown Downey businesses that operate late into the night.
“It’s a public safety issue as espoused by the Police Department,” said Dominguez.
“We have to take a look at the city, the governance of the city, the people who are responsible for promoting public safety, and listen to the recommendations as to why…let’s not be prejudicial and say ‘oh because it’s something I like, it should be granted a variance.’ I don’t think that’s proper.”
However, Dominguez’s concerns went for naught as he was overruled by the majority, specifically Chairman Jim Rodriguez and Matias Flores, who voiced that there was a difference between pizza and hookah. Rodriguez even commented that pizza by the slice was “different than hookah by the puff.”
“I would argue that the difference between them (patrons) going to the hookah lounge to basically sit and smoke versus just to stand at a window and get a pizza arguably are two different concepts,” said Rodriguez. “I’m more in favor of getting a bite to eat and toning down versus the dark environment of gelling out and getting high or whatever they do.”