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Beverly Hills Expected to Maintain Roadblock to Dolores Drive-In

August 27, 1987|PHILIPP GOLLNER | Times Staff Writer

When Dolores Drive-In Restaurant closed its doors six years ago after 35 years in business at Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards in Beverly Hills, part-owner Dean Williams promised to bring the popular '50s-style drive-in back to life sometime in the future.

Nostalgic patrons were thrilled at the news that it would reopen this summer at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and La Peer Drive in south Beverly Hills.

Neighbors near the proposed site were less enthusiastic.

They feared that the drive-in would generate traffic and parking problems and would attract boisterous teen-agers with blaring car stereos. The parking lot would be used as a meeting place for drug dealers and dope addicts, they argued.

Armed with 325 signatures from residents opposed to the drive-in, Concerned Residents of Southeast Beverly Hills, a neighborhood group, in July persuaded the Beverly Hills City Council to adopt a temporary ordinance that would make it difficult for businesses to get approval for drive-ins.

The council is expected to vote Tuesday on extending the temporary ordinance for another 10 months until a permanent law is written. Mayor Benjamin H. Stansbury Jr. said he expects the council to approve the extension.

"We don't think the outdoor drive-in type activity is appropriate for the neighborhood," Stansbury said. "I don't think it is going to be allowed."

The ordinance requires businesses planning drive-ins or drive-throughs to seek a conditional use permit from the city Planning Commission. Such permits are usually difficult to obtain since they require businesses to prove that projects are compatible with the neighborhood and will not significantly increase traffic, noise, lighting and smog.

Applications for such permits are "going to be scrutinized very closely," said Irwin M. Kaplan, director of the city's Department of Planning and Community Development. "The commission will be very concerned with the character of the neighborhood and will try to strike a balance."

The city Environmental Review Board on Aug. 19 recommended approval of restoration plans for the restaurant but put off any decision on the drive-in until the owners formally apply for a conditional use permit. Co-owner Izzy Freeman said he plans to apply for the permit as soon as the restaurant opens late next month.

Freeman said the restaurant's opening has been delayed because of the bureaucratic battle, costing him between $20,000 and $30,000.

"We weren't going to make a major production out of it (the drive-in). They (the neighbors) made a major production," Freeman said.

He said no more than seven cars would be permitted in the drive-in area at a time. Unlike traditional car hops, Dolores waitresses will wear tennis shoes, not roller skates, he said.

Freeman said income from drive-in customers is needed to make up for seats that will be lost to a bakery inside. Dolores will have 66 seats, 22 fewer than in the International House of Pancakes restaurant that was located on the site until it was closed last spring.

The interior will replicate the old Dolores Drive-In, he said.

"We're restoring the inside almost to a T," he said. "We're going to bake the same old muffins and cakes--everything the way it was."

That does not impress Arnold Band, chairman of Concerned Residents of Southeast Beverly Hills.

"Drive-ins attract a very transient business," he said. "And quite often they turn out to be a huge social club and drop-off spot for drugs. This is not a thing we want in a residential neighborhood."

He said traffic at the corner is already excessive and will become much worse if cars pull in and out of the drive-in.

Freeman said he hopes he can reach a compromise with the neighbors.

"It's to our benefit to keep the neighbors happy," he said. "We have to coexist. They're our customers."

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