PICO RIVERA — The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department this weekend will continue a crackdown on young people cruising Whittier Boulevard, where scores have been arrested over the past two weeks.
The stepped-up enforcement began after thousands of people were drawn to the boulevard when Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers opened last month, according to Sheriff's Sgt. John Mosak of the Pico Rivera substation.
Last weekend, 83 people were arrested between Thursday and Sunday, Mosak said. Eighty-eight people were arrested the weekend of Oct. 25, when the crackdown was first conducted over a three-day period, he said, adding that his force had not anticipated the crush of people.
The majority of those arrested were juveniles and 18- to 26-year-olds who were cited for traffic violations, intoxication or possession of narcotics, Mosak said.
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Those arrested, he said, were a cross section of young people from El Monte, Arcadia, La Puente, Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, Montebello, Norwalk, Downey, East Los Angeles and Pico Rivera.
People are flocking to Tommy's, Sheriff's Lt. Arnie Verdugo said, "because it's an in-place. It gives the kids an opportunity to cruise and say, 'I ate at Tommy's.' "
Tommy's Hamburgers, a drive-through with 12 tables and eight parking spaces, opened Oct. 15. It has been attracting about 2,000 to 3,000 customers daily, with that number increasing to 2,500 to 3,500 people daily during the weekend, according to Brian Lewis, manager of the 24-hour, fast-food restaurant at the corner of Durfee Avenue and Whittier Boulevard.
The company had expected 60% of its current business in Pico Rivera, Lewis said, adding that the company "is happy" and that the customers "have been pretty orderly."
The Pico Rivera Tommy's is one of 10 in a chain that originated in Los Angeles on Beverly and Rampart boulevards in 1946, Lewis said. The new outlet has been greeted with a welcome that surpassed the one its Rowland Heights counterpart received last year.
In fact, the Pico Rivera Tommy's has enjoyed the "busiest opening so far," said Michael Rhodes, director of operations for the chain in Los Angeles. The local Tommy's, he said, is currently second only to the Beverly branch in terms of the number of customers and dollar volume it receives.
The Beverly establishment serves 25,000 to 30,000 customers a week, Rhodes said, adding that business in Pico Rivera is expected to level off, dropping by 20% to 30% in a few weeks.
Also, he said, another Tommy's is scheduled to open on Florence and Seville avenues in Huntington Park in December and "that should relieve a little of the pressure" here.