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Venice’s Axe restaurant garden coming soon

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A two-year battle is nearing conclusion on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, where Joanna Moore, the owner of Axe restaurant, recently received the permits required to allow her to begin seating customers in the back garden of the property she leases. Her final hurdle is getting those permits approved by the Coastal Commission. (Axe is in a designated Coastal Zone.)

According to city planning documents, Moore seeks to expand her “690 square foot existing restaurant with seating for 40 patrons by adding outdoor service onto a 600 square foot patio.” Then comes the kicker: “There is no on-site parking.”

Existing code requires 12 parking spaces for the new garden patio service to be allowed. Despite opposition from some of her Abbot Kinney neighbors, Moore lobbied for an exemption from this rule, citing hardship. Building 12 new parking spaces would require major construction fees and the possible demolition of portions of the building that houses the restaurant.

On July 16, the Department of City Planning recommended that she be granted the exemption, concluding that “the expansion will allow the restaurant to expand its table service and thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the commercial corridor.” Just before that, Moore was granted a conditional use permit for beverages and a variance that allows her to acquire parking by lease. After the recommendation, she received the golden permit exempting Axe from building the 12 parking spaces.

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Reached for comment, Moore said, “It has been a bureaucratic maze to get to the prize.”

What about the opposition she has faced? “It’s minor compared to the support,” she says, but it has been exceedingly vocal. “It’s turned into a political thing. This is not a nightclub; it’s just a garden with 25 seats. It’s shocking that the city isn’t ushering us through this to celebrate the weather and the quality of life in L.A.’ She also mentions that her rent is about to double “because the neighborhood’s changing. This expansion is essential to keep Axe alive.’

As for the garden, with its fig, lemon, lime, orange and olive trees, Moore says: “People just gravitate toward it. Kids love it. It’s a sanctuary.”

— Jessica Gelt


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