Judge Limits Hours of Outdoor Bar Area : Complaints Force Early Closing of Patio at W. Hollywood’s Cheers

Times Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge has ordered a popular West Hollywood bar and restaurant not to operate an outdoor patio bar--the source of neighbor complaints about noise--after 10 p.m.

But in issuing a preliminary injunction last week against the owner of Cheers, 8279 Santa Monica Blvd., Judge Miriam Vogel rejected a request from the city of West Hollywood that the patio be closed.

The judge’s action left unchanged restrictions placed on the patio’s use in a temporary restraining order she issued against the establishment on Aug. 27.

Meanwhile, attorneys for both sides expressed hope that a trial can occur soon to settle the matter.


Locked in Dispute

Chris Cox, the owner of Cheers, has been locked in a dispute with the city almost from the time the establishment opened two years ago. Cheers became an immediate success at a location that for years was occupied by a less-popular restaurant and bar.

Before the city moved to curb the hours the patio remained in use, neighbors complained of being unable to sleep as a result of noise. Cox has said his business has fallen off 60% since the restraining order took effect.

Neighbors have claimed that Cox misrepresented his plans in 1986 when he obtained a permit from the city to expand the outdoor bar area. The neighbors claim the bar area never existed.


After city officials approved the expansion without conducting an inspection, the Planning Commission in February determined that even though the patio existed before, it had not been used continuously as a bar area, and the commission imposed new noise restrictions on the restaurant.

Enclosed Patio

In July, after listening to impassioned pleas from neighbors and patrons of the bar, the City Council voted to require that the patio be enclosed.

Cox has said that, after spending $300,000 to renovate the establishment, he cannot afford the $250,000 he said it would take to enclose the patio.

Since then, attorneys for Cox and the owners of the building have accused the city of misrepresenting the facts of the case in its successful attempt to acquire the restraining order.

Barrett McInerney, who represents Cox, has accused the city’s Planning Department of trying to cover up its approval of Cox’s expansion plans while at the same time city officials were accusing Cox of misleading them regarding the plans--a key part of the city’s argument in seeking the restraining order.

City officials have denied that any cover-up occurred.

Calling the evidence presented by both sides “overwhelming,” the judge on Thursday said she was “unable to determine who is telling the truth with regard to which rubber stamp was placed when and by whom. . . . This is obviously a case that calls for a full-blown trial on its merits.