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Mi Piace sues mall owners

Ben Godar

Mi Piace restaurant is suing its landlord and other tenants at the

Media City Center, alleging they violated the restaurant’s lease and

hurt its business.

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In a lawsuit filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court, the

Italian restaurant claims breach of contract on the part of Alexander

Haagen Properties, the initial owner of the property, and several

subsequent landlords. The eatery, at 801 N. San Fernando Blvd., also

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alleges its lease was violated by several tenants in and around its

site, including In-N-Out Burger, Virgin Entertainment Group and Baja

Fresh.

Among the allegations are charges that Haagen Properties misled

Mi Piace officials to prevent them from erecting an outdoor patio

that was approved in the original lease. It also claims that the

property owners violated the lease by allowing Baja Fresh to sublease

building space from Virgin, which the lawsuit claims exacerbated

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congestion in the on-site parking lot. The lease said no additional

restaurants would be allowed into the immediate area, the lawsuit

alleges.

Since Mi Piace signed its lease with Haagen Properties in 1995,

officials said the property has been sold several times, but each

owner has failed to correct the problems.

John Byrne, an attorney representing Burbank Mall Associates,

confirmed that the company owns the property, but declined to comment

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on the allegations. The other groups listed in the lawsuit could not

be reached for comment.

Armen Shirvanian, managing general partner of Mi Piace, said

increased congestion in the area has driven an untold number of

customers away from the restaurant. In particular, he said cars at

In-N-Out Burger’s drive-through lane frequently block all of the

approximately 50 public-parking spaces, leaving no parking available

for Mi Piace patrons.

The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million from the property owners,

and also asks the court to restrict Virgin from subleasing any of its

property and to order In-N-Out to limit its traffic to the areas

allocated in the lease.

While Mi Piace operates successful restaurants in Pasadena and

Calabasas, Shirvanian said the problems at the Media City Center have

prevented the Burbank location from turning a profit. Even so, he

said he still hopes the location can be a success.

“I’m always optimistic, but there has been enormous damage to our

business,” he said.

The restaurant will have to close if it does not begin making a

profit, he said.


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