For many months, Mark Gallucci has been meeting with the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce, the Echo Park Improvement Association and the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council trying to build support for his plans to transform his popular into a full-fledged restaurant serving beer and wine.
Wednesday night he decided to call his own meeting, what he called a "Town Hall" on Fix's plans. According to Gallucci, a state liquor license would be part of a larger plan to serve food, and expand the kitchen and seating under a "conditional use permit" from the city.
The idea has been kicking around for a while. For several months, a petition supporting the idea has greeted patrons as they check out at Fix. Several thousand people have signed it.
But Wednesday's meeting brought out many opposed to the idea.
Visual artist and property-owner Peter Shire asked, "Do we want this to be a commercial strip?" He noted that had refused to rent to a tenant who wanted to start a restaurant serving beer and wine.
Homeowner Irene Amaro worried, like many, about the parking, traffic and noise issues that a restaurant attracting outsiders would create.
"Echo Park echoes, " she said, noting that she lived directly across the street from Fix on Echo Park Avenue. "My house is my investment."
Walter Elmer, a former teacher at , just across the street from Fix, also came out against the move, though he had lots of praise for Fix.
"This was a blighted corner for many years," he said.' "Now, it's a great community gathering place."
But Elmer urged the crowd to "Just Say No" to beer and wine at Fix, pointing to the site's proximity to four elementary and preschools.
Supporters of Fix commended Marc Gallucci's efforts to engage with the community throughout the two years the cafe has been open.
Christine Peters said many of the same objections came up when what is now the --just off Sunset Boulevard on Echo Park Avenue--was being created.
She reminded the crowd that Fix hoped to operate under a conditional use permit, which would allow for complaints and a one-year review.
Local activist Rosie Betanzos was the last speaker of the night. A life-time Echo Park resident--whose godparents owned property in the area--she said she showed up to support Fix and the idea of a neighborhood restaurant.
"Call it gentrification, call it whatever you want," she said, "but you can walk in Echo Park now, and it's because of businesses along Echo Park Avenue."
"This guy has gone out of his way to talk to you, "she added. "'He didn't have to do this. And that's integrity."
For his part, Gallucci was pleased with the evening. He said he and consultant Kyoshi Graves will take all of what they heard quite seriously.
As for when his applications will be formally submitted, Gallucci said "we've still got a way to go."