Gjusta off to a positive start, but councilman opposes liquor license and patio
By Gary Walker
Gjusta, a new bakery and sandwich shop opened Oct. 17 by Gjelina restaurant owner Fran Camaj, is doing brisk business for breakfast and lunch in a 5,000-square-foot former office building at 320 Sunset Ave. in Venice.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive in the first week,” Camaj said. “It was a great weekend for us.”
But most orders are takeout due to a lack of dedicated seating, and a proposal by Camaj to expand the restaurant with a 65-square-foot outdoor dining patio has generated intense community opposition — particularly because the patio, adjacent to a residential area, would be open late and a liquor license application is pending.
Camaj faces a West Los Angeles Zoning Administration permit hearing for the liquor license and patio on Nov. 13.
The Venice Neighborhood Council and its Land Use and Planning Committee have already weighed in against the patio and liquor license, and now L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin is joining that opposition.
“The design of the proposed project is fundamentally flawed because the majority of activity will be concentrated near the rear of the site, on the outside patio. The noise and other disruption that will result from the operation of the restaurant is an undue burden to place on the neighbors across the alley,” Bonin wrote in an Oct. 31 letter to the zoning administrator.
Bonin wrote that his office has met with Camaj to work out a solution, but “because the patio is integral to the project design and existing business plan, we have been unable to reach a compromise,” he wrote.
Camaj said Bonin’s objections were “quite disappointing” given that Gjelina has been a popular nightspot since it opened in 2008 and has not drawn unwanted attention from law enforcement.
“We have not had any [Alcohol Beverage Control] violations, and we have never been cited by the Los Angeles Police Department for any noise violations,” Camaj noted.
For those wondering about those names, Camaj said Gjelina is named for his mother and Gjusta for his aunt.
Gjusta’s hearing is expected to start at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 13 at the West Los Angeles Municipal Building, 1645 Corinth Ave., West L.A. Visit cityplanning.lacity.org to see documents. .