Seaside Grill owner Ron Sesler’s yearlong quest to extend his restaurant’s operating hours ended this week when the City Council rejected the proposal.
Monday’s 3-2 decision caps months of often heated debate between Main Street merchants who supported Sesler’s request and some nearby residents who opposed it.
The council’s move also reverses an earlier vote by the Planning Commission, which granted the Seaside Grill one extra hour of operation each night--from 10 to 11 p.m. on weeknights and from 11 p.m. to midnight on weekends.
The council majority argued that approving the extra hours would set a precedent and encourage other Main Street eateries to request similar hours.
Several council members agreed with residents that the increased hours could change the character of Main Street, making it more of a magnet for people in search of late-night drinking and dining.
“We could feasibly have another Belmont Shores,” said Mayor Gwen Forsythe, referring to the Long Beach neighborhood known for its night life. “We don’t want Seal Beach to be known . . . as a place to drink.”
Monday’s council meeting attracted more than two dozen supporters and opponents of the proposal.
“We have to set certain standards and maintain those standards,” said resident Gordon Shanks, an opponent of longer hours.
But other speakers said the Seaside Grill is a community-oriented restaurant that deserves the extra hours.
“We need more restaurants that are willing to stay open,” said Councilman William J. Doane.
He and Councilman George Brown supported the request. Forsythe was joined by council members Marilyn Bruce Hastings and Frank Laszlo in opposing it.