Customers should not be misled by the $3 beer listed on China Garden’s menu, as the restaurant’s management has decided to withdraw its application for an on-site alcohol license.
Manager Jennifer Guan said she decided not to continue the license application process in August, after Lt. Sol Linver of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) and 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone filed official protests with the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) office. Both Linver and Firestone voiced their complaints after China Garden – located at 6530 Pardall Rd. – first applied for the license on June 15, citing an excess of existing liquor licenses within Isla Vista.
Linver said he protested China Garden’s application because he is concerned with the number of alcohol-related crimes in I.V. and said he has spoken with many community members who believe sufficient places to purchase alcohol already exist. He said 16 businesses currently hold on-site alcohol licenses in I.V. – six more than are generally granted to restaurants and bars in comparable areas.
Businesses with on-site liquor licenses are allowed to sell alcohol that will be consumed on their premises. Conversely, off-site licenses allow businesses such as markets to sell alcohol that can be carried out of the store.
Firestone said he thinks residents and visitors to I.V. consume an abundance of alcohol, contributing to the poor reputation of the area.
“I’m concerned about the alcohol consumption in I.V. as well as the reputation of I.V.,” Firestone said. “It’s a magnet for people in Southern California to do drinking and this is giving the area a bad reputation.”
Guan said she is currently waiting to receive her deposit back from the ABC and said she will not apply again this year. However, she said she does not believe that a liquor license at China Garden would significantly contribute to crime in I.V.
“Because of protests I talked to the police and they said they are worried right now about the neighborhood,” Guan said. “They want to make this a better neighborhood.”
According to the California Business & Professional Code, the ABC can grant additional alcohol licenses above its limit of 10 off-site licenses and 10 on-site licenses for restaurants and bars, depending on the need in an area. The need is based on a concentration formula, which factors in the population and size of the area in question.
Linver said two on-sale licenses in I.V. are not being used, one of which is held by the Laundry Lounge at 955 Embarcadero Del Mar. A new business called The Spot has leased the space formerly known as Espresso Roma – located at 6521 Pardall Rd. – and is currently seeking to transfer ownership of the old, existing on-site license with the ABC.
Both Linver and Firestone said they would not object to an I.V. restaurant such as China Garden applying to transfer a license not being used – such as the one at Laundry Lounge – but said they will protest any businesses applying for additional ABC licenses. Guan said she has no plans as of yet to apply to transfer the license from the Laundry Lounge to her restaurant.
In addition to Guan withdrawing China Garden’s application for an ABC license, the Study Hall bar located at 6543 Pardall Rd. has ceased plans to expand its liquor license, Linver said. Study Hall’s license allows for alcohol to be served and consumed in half the space it owns, the other half of which is now being used for storage.
Linver said he also protested the bar’s application.
“There is a lot of alcohol in this town,” Linver said. “It’s obvious with my experiences and statistics that alcohol does contribute to other crimes. People do things under the influence they wouldn’t normally do.”