Closed Italian restaurant gets OK to reopen with full bar, music

A downtown restaurant that closed about a year ago will soon be serving Italian cuisine again after gaining city permits Tuesday.

The Planning Commission unanimously granted a conditional-use and coastal development permit for Luggatti's Restaurant with a full bar and live entertainment.

The Italian restaurant, 210 Fifth St., will reopen in the same 3,500-square-foot building it occupied before closing in 2009 and will be very similar to the first, said Susan Hamil, the project's applicant.

"We'd like to continue with a warm, friendly, kind of inviting atmosphere," she said.

Hamil said the 400-square-foot outdoor dining area will be enhanced with a gas fireplace and flat-screen TVs.

The entertainment permit will allow live music such as piano or guitar players or instrumental jazz.

Resident Richard Plummer, a spokesman of the Huntington Beach Neighbors, a grass-roots organization dedicated to lowering density and limiting the number of alcohol-serving establishments downtown, spoke out against granting the entertainment permits.

Luggatti's was a great family restaurant, but allowing it an entertainment permit will turn it into a nightclub, he said.

"There is no reason a restaurant needs an entertainment permit; only a bar does," he said.

Resident Kim Kramer, the spokesman for the Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Assn., another grass-roots coalition dedicated to preserving the downtown, spoke out in favor of the project. Kramer said he has no concerns about the entertainment permit at all.

"This is wonderful," Kramer said. "Luggatti's is coming back — what can be better than this?"

Hamil said the entertainment permit is for ambient music — patrons would still be able to hold a conversation when it's on.

The restaurant can be open from 7 a.m. to midnight, but the commission mandated the outdoor dining area has to close at 11 p.m. in concern for neighboring residents.

The restaurant is expected to employ about 45 people.

—Britney Barnes

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