The City Council has permitted the beleaguered Hermosa Beach restaurant Watermans to extend its live entertainment offerings throughout the week, but not its late hours of operation. Residents once accused the owner, Jeff Bellandi, of hosting a nightclub that attracted the wrong type of crowd.
"But I've turned things around at Watermans," Bellandi said.
The council sent a recommendation to the planning commission to allow Watermans to host live events seven days a week. The planning commission will decide on Tuesday whether to grant the Pier Plaza restaurant permission.
Watermans currently hosts live entertainment from Thursday to Saturday, but Bellandi wants to provide it every night. He also hopes to extend his closing time to 1 a.m., which the council denied.
Watermans, which was formerly known as Dragon, had its liquor license suspended by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control two years ago.
Dragon violated state alcohol laws and city occupancy limits, the department said. Some of its other violations included attempts to sell alcohol contaminated with insects and other types of debris.
"I understand my mistakes and I believe that I've done my time," Bellandi said. "I'm just asking all of you to step out of the box and put yourself in my shoes and help me move it in a positive direction at Watermans."
The mayor and council members debated whether it would be safe for the restaurant to adopt a later closing time, a discussion that mirrored recent conversation regarding the allowance of late alcohol-serving hours for other local establishments.
Hermosa Beach resident Sandy Saemann said he believes the move would result in Watermans becoming another rowdy bar instead of a family-friendly restaurant.
"If he wants another bar, he can't work here," Saemann said. "He should go to another place. When you have a lot of cheap drinks, you attract another crowd. You attract more trouble."
Councilman Jeff Duclos said Bellandi should prove his restaurant could thrive solely on food sales before additional allowances are granted.
"I would want a little more track record from the establishment in terms of proving itself as a bona fide, genuine restaurant," Duclos said.
After a lengthy debate, Mayor Michael DiVirgilio settled with allowing the restaurant to host live entertainment until 11 p.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and until 12:30 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.