Convenience store near Venice Canals would become an indoor-outdoor restaurant

By Gary Walker

Tesuque Village Market hopes to seat 45 diners

Not many neighborhoods would take issue with a corner market becoming a restaurant. The Venice Canals is not like many neighborhoods, and Tesuque Village Market — formerly known as Kim’s Market — sits at an unusual intersection: the corner of Mildred and Ocean avenues, just a few car lengths from where Mildred crosses busy South Venice Boulevard.

For the past five years, owners of the 904-square-foot market have been seeking to shrink the market area to 324 square feet and convert 580 square feet into a restaurant with alcohol service and seating for 45 people: 25 indoors, 18 outdoors.

“We see it as a local bodega — the type of place where one can walk to meet a friend and share a snack in a quaint, casual environment or take a hot meal home. The market portion will still be open for convenience items. We see this as huge amenity for the neighborhood,” said Robert Thibodeaux, a local architect representing Tezuke LLC, controlled by market owners Alicia Searle and Michael Stein.

Thibodeaux is also a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, which voted to support the project last October. Back in 2014, a different iteration of the council rejected a 60-seat version of the market/restaurant concept.

A city Planning Department administrator hearing to approve the market-to-restaurant conversion is set for 10 a.m. Monday, July 15, at the West Los Angeles Municipal Building at 1645 Corinth Ave. In addition to a conditional use permit to serve alcohol and a coastal development permit for the change of use, the owners are also requesting a CEQA exemption.

Opponents say vehicle traffic at Mildred, Ocean and South Venice can’t handle any more car trips at rush hour, and that changing a market into a restaurant that serves alcohol is not the best use of land for a residential neighborhood.

“Owners of adjacent homes purchased their homes with the expectation that the residential neighborhood would maintain its residential character, and that a nearby property would not be allowed to change in a way that increases noise, traffic or creates a nuisance,” Dylan Porter, who lives nearby, wrote in a letter to planning officials.