Restaurant Opening May be Slowed by County Permit Process

AltaEats, a restaurant planned for the intersection of New York and Allen may take a little longer to open than owners expected because of the need to apply for a parking permit.

A restaurant planned for 1860 N. Allen Ave. may not be open as early as the owner had estimated because of additional county permits that will be required to open the business.

As , local resident and chef Paul Ragan is planning to open AltaEats on that area.  He now owns the property and has even come up with a menu (which can be viewed on the right).

Ragan told Patch that he hoped to be open by mid-May, but now says that timetable is not realistic.

The problem appears to be that the county does not have a record of a legally-permitted restaurant operating on that property.

Though Ragan and several commenters on this site have noted that the site used to be inhabited by an eatery called "Jacks Kasbah," county planner Mark Child told Patch via email that the county does not have any record of the owners of that place applying for a permit.

According to Child, the address has been used as a fish and poultry market, a use that was permitted in 1990 by the county.  In 1996, a permit was issued for the sale of beer and wine on the site, but the application did not specify that those sales would take place at a restaurant.

Because the county has no record of of a restaurant operating there, the owners must either find records that would establish a restaurant has previously been permitted, or must file a site plan and parking permit application with the county, according to Child.

There is not enough parking on site to meet county requirements for a restaurant, so the owner would need to apply for a "parking deviation request" to void those requirements, Child said.  Depending on how many parking spots short of a requirement the place is, the county might be required to hold a public hearing on whether to grant the permit or not, Child said.

Ragan and his partner have already started the process of filing for a conditional use permit to serve beer and wine, according to Child.

Revvell April 13, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Why am I not surprised?
Judy Bass April 13, 2012 at 04:15 PM
We ate at Jack's Kasbah many times - I'd testify under oath that there was indeed a restaurant there. It was family-owned, and as you'd guess from the name, served middle-eastern food. It was good, inexpensive, clean and friendly, and we were very sorry when it closed.
Vince Cheung April 13, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Maybe we should enlist Supervisor Antonovich's help in helping us support a local business. This county red tape is so unnecessarily frustrating.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Judy, it appears the problem is that the owners of Jack's Kasbah may not have operated legally on the site. Either that or the county could have lost records. But I pointed out the same thing to the county planner, that many people know there was a restaurant there, and he said the applicant needs documentation to show permitted use.
Laura Monteros April 13, 2012 at 04:37 PM
When I had my house retrofitted, someone from the county came out three times to check it. Does the county not send out people to check when they approve liquor permits? If they had, they would have seen a restaurant. I was going to say "This makes no sense," then I remembered--it's the county!
Jay Tee April 13, 2012 at 04:43 PM
That property used to be owned and run by my aunts family from early 1970's until early 2000's. Jack (son) changed the name from Middle East Restaurant to Kasbah (or Jack's Kasbah). The property was leased and eventually sold. Prior to this, it was owned by a caterer who lives and operates in Altadena. Hope this helps.
Hugo April 13, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Didn't we see this coming????
Jay Tee April 13, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Jack was operating legally. Middle East Restaurant was a long standing business with lots of locals who frequented the establishment. Prior to this location, Middle East Restaurant was leasing the property adjacent just to the north of the location in question. If the owner needs to get a hold of Jack for validation or more clarification, please email me or have the owner email me.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 04:55 PM
@Jay Tee - Perhaps it would help if your aunts family could get in touch with the new owners or with the county if they had any documentation of permits, etc.
Jay Tee April 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM
My aunt and uncle are retired and gone a lot. Jack (son) is a full time school teacher now and has kids of his own. Point being, I doubt either of them have much free time to call the county or the new owners but I'm sure Jack could point them in the right direction and clarify discrepancies, once contacted. Email will work best, I believe.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) April 13, 2012 at 05:08 PM
OK Jay Tee, I passed along your info to the new owner. Thanks for commenting and offering help.
Tunafisher April 13, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Yep - saw this coming!
Chris April 13, 2012 at 10:05 PM
So sad that someone is going to roll the dice and open a restsurant for us all to enjoy and the county, full of bureaucrats justifying their jobs, come in and try to screw it up.
Leslie Aitken April 14, 2012 at 05:56 AM
AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!! -- And you can quote me on that.
Maria Impala April 14, 2012 at 08:27 AM
Dan, my husband & I were also regular customers at at Jacks. When he obtained his Type 41 beer and wine license we discussed the license process with him over dinner on several occasions -- We have a small consulting firm that assists business with licenses and permits related to alcohol sales.. Jacks Kasbah was licensed to sell beer & wine on 1/21/1997 through 5/3/2002 when the license was not renewed. The license number was 41- 326310. The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Form #255, requires a valid conditional use permit allowing that "use" (a restaurant selling beer & wine) be submitted with the application and the name of the planner at the county that was contacted. The State ABC may be able to produce those records but shouldn't have to. Jack's couldn't have been licensed to sell beer & wine without LA County approval. It's likely the county lost the records -- they lose active files all the time. Even when they don't lose a file processing time for a Conditional Use Permit for alcohol or parking can take 9-12 months to obtain.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) April 14, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Maria, wow, on pulling out that data. However, the county seems to have record of the CUP. What they don't seem to have is a site plan and permit indicating a change of use at that property back in 1996/1997 which is what they say was required. So basically they are saying they did grant permission to serve alcohol at an establishment the CUP described as a restaurant but that they have no record of the restaurant actually being a permitted use at that site. I'm following up with them for more on how this happened.
Maria Impala April 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Dan, I'd love to hear what they have to say...It seems impossible for them to grant a use to a restaurant that was not a permitted use at that site. If that were the case It should have been discovered at the time and the permits would have been tied together. But then it IS LA County. Keep us posted!
rosette aghoian April 14, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Jack (owner of the Restaurant Jack's Kasbah) is my brother. There was in fact an operating restaurant and as my brother jsut confirmed by phone, all the paperwork needed to run the business was in fact filed with the county. We'd love to help out if someone can give us the contact information of the new owner, I will pass it along. It would be great to have al local eatery there again. I recognize some of the names above and have fond memories of working there and socializing with all the great folks that came in. Rosette Aghoian
Dan Abendschein (Editor) April 14, 2012 at 08:35 PM
@Rosette - I'll forward your email address. And Maria, I'll email you the response I got from the county I received... maybe you can offer some insight I've missed since you have some expertise in this. What you said about it being impossible... that sort of slowly dawned on me and I left a message for the planner asking how it might happen that the place would be granted a CUP without being permitted to run a restaurant in the first place. I hope to get some more info on this.
milton hall April 14, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I moved into my house in Altadena in 1970. My son who was 11 at the time, and his friends rode their bikes to the Middle Eastern restaurant and would have their delicious home-made hamburgers. He and his friends would spend time and talk to the owner (the dad) and then pedal home. They and I loved their food and so did I. I'm looking forward to having a local restaurant to walk to from my home.
Ericka April 15, 2012 at 02:03 AM
i think it's a testament to the amazing people of altadena that folks are trying to help move this along, despite the county's...issues. (the former owner jack's family and friends seem like great people!) that said, i also feel that if, hypothetically, the restaurant hadn't been permitted, it would be awfully bureaucratic and unfair to penalize an entrepreneur who has put money on the line because the prior restaurant wasn't permitted. does that mean that before you try to open a restaurant, you have to make sure the prior restaurant was permitted? so much red tape. what if the new owner hadn't been so lucky to have folks who know the permit information history? i really hope this all works out and quickly. it's a good example to bring up at the visioning meetings - next one is on april 25th at loma alta park!
Monica Hubbard April 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM
When I was a brand new first-time mom, the first restaurant I went to with my months-old daughter was Middle East Restaurant. Great food. Abraham and Mary, Jack and Rosette made us customers all feel as though we were family. It's so great reading all the helpful comments. (Hi, Rosette!)
Monica Hubbard April 15, 2012 at 10:42 AM
Middle East Restaurant was a popular place for Caltech students, too. If you scroll to page 4 of the Caltech student newspaper and look on the bottom right, you'll see an ad for Middle East Restaurant. I had been at my new teaching job at Caltech one month when that paper came out on October 26, 1972. http://tech.caltech.edu/archive/scanned-archive/1972_10_26_74_06.pdf
Lori A. Webster April 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM
omg....Rosette! So nice to "see" you again. I can also attest to Jack's being a restaurant as I ate there a few times as well.
rosette aghoian April 17, 2012 at 02:39 AM
We found the permits from Jack's Kasbah!!! I asked my brother Jack and parents if they had saved anything and sure enough they found the restaurant permit and liquor license. I hope I can help to expedite the process and the new place can open soon. Maybe Chef Ragan would be willing to add a menu item form the Kasbah days for old times sake. I guess I;ll just wait for Paul Ragan to contact me. Rosette rsaghoian@earthlink.net
Carole Key April 10, 2013 at 03:35 AM
I think Vinnie's idea of getting Mike Antonovich involved is a good one. This has been a request by Altadena residents everytime we are asked what Altadena needs. We say some good restaurants. I have lived here since 1991 and have seen the County drive away good people who tried to get permits to open a restaurant. Some of them are successfully running restaurants in Pasadena. Our loss. Something is wrong with the county permit system it sounds like!


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