MAGNOLIA PARK DISTRICT — When Shawn Stevens began refurbishing a storefront on Verdugo Avenue to open Krust Café, he immediately felt encouragement from residents in the neighborhood.
"Even during the whole four months that we were in here renovating, we had so much support from everybody," he said. "The community seemed to really be rallying behind us."
But as the café took shape and compliments about the décor poured in, many people kept asking the same question: Where are the tables going to be?
In the process of securing city business permits, Stevens discovered that the site did not have the adequate number of parking spaces to permit its use as a restaurant. That meant tables and chairs would not be allowed. Without a code variance, well, customers would just have to sit on the floor.
And until Monday, when the Planning Board approved a parking variance for the Krust Café, many people did just that, bringing blankets and pillows along with them.
But the Planning Board decided that a variance was appropriate for two primary reasons, Planning Board member Amy Lawrence said. First, the proprietors were acting in good faith, having been informed that the table-seating allowance of the restaurant that had previously inhabited the space, Martino's, would be extended to the Krust Café, she said. In addition, the restaurant did not appear to pose any parking problems in the area.
"There's never a parking problem, or overcrowding, despite the fact that the ballet class [next door] is often overfull," she said. "It seems to have a huge walk-in crowd and there doesn't seem to be a huge number of tables … and the benefits for the community are palpable.."
With an official nod from the city, Stevens and his wife, co-owner Kaylene Stevens, opened their restaurant on Tuesday — more than a month after its grand opening on Sept. 15 — for the first time as a city-sanctioned restaurant with tables and chairs.
When looking into opening a sandwich shop in Burbank, Stevens said he saw that Burbank already had great restaurants
"I realized that if you're going to have a shop in Burbank, you have to do something different," he said. "Several years ago I thought that panini-style sandwiches … was something that hadn't been exposed to any degree in the community. And I knew that focaccia breads and the European artisan breads were extremely popular, so my idea was to combined the artisan breads with the panini-style ingredients and see what happens."
Also adding to Krust's appeal is a unique and eclectic décor, Shawn Stevens said. Working as a caterer for the HBO series "Entourage," he traveled to trendy coffee shops and cafes in places like Westside Los Angeles and along Melrose Avenue.
"I thought that this would be something that the community in Burbank would welcome," he said. "Many people in Burbank work for the studios and they get to see those places, but in Burbank where are you going to go to experience something that's kind of hip, kind of trendy?"
"We decided to be eclectic and not be married to any one particular style, but be a place for people's imaginations roam, where people can have conversations and bring their friends," he said.
The Krust Café is at 1723 W. Verdugo Ave.