The leather-clad motorcyclists and hot rod fans who congregate on weeknights at the All-American Burger drive-in in Westwood have been drawing a lot of attention lately from passers-by but not from city officials, to the consternation of area homeowners.
The deafening roar generated by more than 100 revving motorcycles plagues the residents whose back doors and garages sit squarely behind the drive-in's busy parking lot.
Last week, they submitted a petition calling on the city to put an end to the noise, trash and blocked driveways that they say have been caused by the car and motorcycle fans who frequent the drive-in at Ohio Avenue and Westwood Boulevard.
Petition to Yaroslavsky
The petition to City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky was signed by 23 residents of the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Glendon Avenue, according to resident Dennis Cornwell.
Yaroslavsky's press aide, Michelle Krotinger, said the councilman plans to ask the city attorney's office to determine whether the drive-in is in violation of zoning regulations or municipal codes restricting noise and loitering.
The Westwood residents say they are most upset about motorcyclists who rev loud engines in the drive-in's parking lot, which is across an alley from a row of single-story homes. They say the noise is loudest on Monday nights, the restaurant's "Motorcycle Night" when up to 100 Harley-Davidson owners gather at the drive-in.
"The entire street is just littered with food and beer bottles," said one resident, who asked that his name not be printed because he fears harassment from the bikers. "The noise and the revving--it's not the place for it."
His wife, who also asked not to be identified, said the motorcycles create a thunderous roar when they all leave about 9:30 p.m. on Mondays.
"Those motorcycles go flying up and down here with all the noise," she said. "And you can hear the thump-thump of the jukebox" coming from inside the restaurant.
Monday Night 'Disaster'
Cornwell, whose garage faces the alley behind the drive-in, said he does not mind the cars but called the Monday motorcycle nights a "disaster."
"We have homes here and we should be able to enjoy the neighborhood without the noise," he said. "It's pretty wild all night."
The drive-in draws car enthusiasts every week night, which causes some problems according to the resident who declined to be identification. He said that on several occasions, his driveway has been blocked by customized trucks that are brought to the drive-in on Tuesdays for the restaurant's "4x4 (truck) Night."
Craig Ouzounian, the drive-in's co-owner, said he is trying to cooperate with the neighbors and has asked customers to do the same. The restaurant closes at 11 p.m. and it is not allowed to sell alcohol, so noise and other disruptions are kept to a minimum, he said.
"I have never seen any drugs or liquor" at the drive-in, he said. "I want this drive-in to be like its name--all-American. Anyone with bad language is asked to leave and anyone with alcohol is asked to leave."
Ouzounian said that converting the once low-key hamburger stand into a '50s-style drive-in was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to start a place where hot-rod enthusiasts could gather and talk about their cars.
He has been a fan of custom race cars since his high school days on the Westside, when he drove a customized Ford pickup truck. Three years ago, he turned his hobby into a serious pursuit with the purchase of a souped-up 1929 Ford Streetrod Highboy, a car he proudly displays on hot rod night.
Last November, Ouzounian and another car enthusiast decided to start up a carhop service at the restaurant and devote one night a week to hot rod and race car fans. Starting the carhop service doubled the restaurant's sales and the other car night followed, Ouzounian said.
The drive-in, he said, caters primarily to responsible professionals, many of whom have rediscovered old hobbies after years of pursuing more conventional interests.
"These guys take off their suits and ties and they put on their black leather and some chains and have some fun," he said.