Rose De Santis doesn't give up easily. If she did, she never would have lasted the eight months it took to open her new Italian restaurant in Wilmington.
Yes, Ristorante De Santis has opened. And yes, you can enjoy a glass of wine or beer with your meal.
"I feel great, as light as a feather," an overjoyed De Santis said last week. "Before I was carrying so much weight around, I wasn't even sleeping."
De Santis, a vivacious Italian who moved to California in 1967, converted a dress shop on Anaheim Street into an elegant restaurant that specializes in authentic northern Italian cuisine.
De Santis decked her restaurant in crystal chandeliers, fine china, silver-plated cutlery, crystal stemware and fresh-cut flowers, but the grand opening she expected to take place last May was put off indefinitely. De Santis could not get permission from state liquor officials to sell beer and wine because the Los Angeles Police Department protested her application.
"It is one of those deals where we are inundated with licenses in that particular area," Capt. David Gascon said at the time. "Enough is enough."
De Santis, like many Italians, grew up drinking wine with her meals. She just couldn't fathom serving her culinary delights without being able to offer wine, too.
Wilmington residents and businesses, led by the Chamber of Commerce, took De Santis' plight to heart. De Santis' restaurant is the kind of business people want in Wilmington, they said. Finally the police backed down, and De Santis got her license.
But then there were the bathrooms.
Just as De Santis was set to plan yet another grand opening, city inspectors informed her that she needed two bathrooms equipped for the handicapped. The women's room at the restaurant can handle a wheelchair, but because of cramped quarters, the men's room is not big enough.
"What an experience!" De Santis exclaimed.
De Santis explained the space problem to the city's Architectural Barriers Advisory Board, which after some discussion agreed to recommend to the Building and Safety Department that De Santis be granted a waiver.
Can Watch the Door
"The lady's bathroom is fully equipped, and we can wheel the men in there, and of course watch the door," De Santis said.
With all of her necessary permits, licenses and waivers in hand, De Santis opened her doors to the public last weekend.
But, not surprisingly, that didn't come off quite as planned. An advertisement in a local newspaper mistakenly announced that the grand opening would take place Aug. 31, she said.