A local bar and tavern will soon be able to provide live entertainment and dancing following lifted restrictions.
The North Westwood Neighborhood Council approved a motion Dec. 5 to support lifting operational restrictions from Rocco’s Tavern, a local bar and tavern in Westwood.
The establishment has not been able to use its front door after 10 p.m., offer happy hour reduced drink prices, provide live entertainment and dancing or open the restaurant windows because of restrictions set by the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control. The owners of Rocco’s Tavern inherited these restrictions when they bought the building from O’Hara’s, a local Italian bar and tavern that closed in 2016, said Michael Skiles, NWWNC president.
The owners of Rocco’s Tavern have been trying to get the restrictions lifted for more than two years. Alexander Manos, an owner of Rocco’s, said the appeals process caused many setbacks to their efforts. The owners needed approval first from the local neighborhood council and then from LAPD’s Vice Division.
The Westwood Neighborhood Council oversaw Westwood Village, including Rocco’s Tavern, until early last year, when the NWWNC was formed following an election to subdivide the jurisdiction of Westwood.
Rocco’s brought forth the motion to lift the restrictions to the WWNC in September 2016 and once more in 2017, but it was voted down by the council both times, said Marcello Robinson, chair of the WWNC Land Use Committee.
Robinson said the WWNC was primarily concerned about noise control and safety. The council felt having open windows and doors on Gayley Avenue would attract people to gather on the sidewalks, especially after UCLA sports games, causing safety concerns for pedestrians who would have to walk on the main road, he said.
“We felt like at the time Rocco’s did not present a solution to those concerns,” Robinson said. “I hope the NWWNC kept the issues and concerns of ours in consideration in mind before passing their motion.”
Skiles said the NWWNC Land Use Committee added a condition that stated entertainment should not be audible beyond the premises after 10 p.m. to address noise concerns. The council noted Gayley Avenue is already loud during the day, so noise from Rocco’s opened windows would not be louder than street traffic.
Rocco’s has considered using high-grade, soundproof glass so it can provide an open-air dining experience during the day and live entertainment in the evening by closing the windows at night to prevent sound disturbances, Skiles said.
Skiles sent a letter to the LAPD Vice Division on Dec. 6 with the council’s recommendations to further the appeals process. Both Manos and Skiles said they are not sure how long they will have to wait before enacting operational changes, but Manos said he is most interested in being able to use Rocco’s front door after 10 p.m., so that customers will not need to walk through the back alley to enter.
Manos said he believes lifting the restrictions would help the restaurant’s operations and increase revenue.
In addition, the council voted in support of Rocco’s because it aligned with Westwood Forward’s platform to bring entertainment to Westwood Village, Skiles said. Westwood Forward is a coalition of students, homeowners and local stakeholders.
Skiles said he believes community members should not need to leave Westwood in order to find entertainment. He added establishments with security and bartenders like Rocco’s can enable community members to have safe and responsible fun.
“All these conditions are only hurting our community and hurting a reputable business,” Skiles said. “Our council signals with the vote that we will be receptive to a few other places that want to provide responsible fun and entertainment within the community.”
Rocco’s Tavern is now appealing to the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control to amend its license before making any changes.