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Restaurant’s Customers Can Dance On

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Times Staff Writer

Folk dancing by patrons may continue at the Great Greek restaurant, despite neighbors’ complaints that the revelry attracts too many customers who make noise late at night and gobble up parking on residential streets.

“The sole request here is to legalize the apparently spontaneous inclination of patrons to join the dancing done by waiters,” said John J. Parker, associate zoning administrator for the city of Los Angeles, in a ruling released Monday.

Before the ruling, the restaurant’s entertainment permit only had allowed the waiters to dance. But when Greek folk music was played, waiters encouraged diners to join them in conga-style lines.

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Parker said he attached strict conditions to his approval to try to address the neighbors’ concerns.

The ruling requires that the restaurant hire two security guards to monitor parking, noise and the number of restaurant patrons. It also requires that outdoor lighting be subdued, that off-site parking be increased from 54 to 60 spaces, that garbage not be picked up after 10 p.m. and that neighbors who live within 500 feet of the establishment be given its telephone number so they can complain directly when problems arise.

However, neighborhood residents said they would appeal Parker’s ruling to the Board of Zoning Appeals because they think it rewards past illegal activities. The Great Greek has been cited twice by the Los Angeles Fire Department for exceeding its 119-person occupancy limit. And Parker said in the ruling that the restaurant has not provided enough off-street parking.

“It sounds like Mr. Parker is saying, ‘Well, they’re breaking the law, so let’s make this legal so they won’t be breaking the law anymore,’ ” said John Allen, a member of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.

‘Not Ecstatic’

A private planning consultant hired by restaurant owner Ernie Criezis said that Criezis was “not ecstatic” about the conditions because of the expense involved in complying, but that he probably would not appeal. Under zoning regulations, both sides have until Feb. 2 to appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

“I’m advising them to just try to grit their teeth,” said consultant Karen Blackwell. “If this is what it takes, if this really will improve the quality of life in the neighborhood, they will benefit from that, too. You really don’t want to be at odds with your neighbors.”

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Councilman Mike Woo had opposed the dancing permit at the restaurant because of the previous problems. Julie Jaskol, a spokeswoman for the councilman, said Woo felt that the ruling “more than satisfies our concerns,” but she said that he wanted to talk with area residents about their lingering concerns.

Last week, similar conditions were attached to a dancing permit for the Moonlight Tango restaurant, which has the same owner and is also on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.

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