Downey praised for efforts to save JohnieÃs Broiler
People who support the preservation of the former JohnieÃs Broiler restaurant in Downey display signs at the Downey City Council meeting last week.
By ARNOLD ADLER, Staff Writer 06.MAR.08
DOWNEY Ã³ After listening to an hour of harsh criticism from residents Feb. 12, the City Council was showered with praise Feb. 28 for their efforts to have the Big Boy chain rebuild and operate the former JohnieÃs Broiler.
Several dozen supporters of the 1960s-style eatery at 7447 Firestone Blvd. spoke during the public comment portion of the agenda, supporting the cityÃs efforts and urging JohnieÃs owner Christos Smyrniotis to sell the site to the Big Boy chain.
They were energized by the announcement Feb. 12 by Gilbert Levas, deputy city manager for community development, that negotiations are under way.
Ã¬Our goal is to rebuild [the restaurant] as it was before,Ã® Levas said Feb. 12, adding that the entire site is larger than needed for the restaurant, but plans are to lease part of the property to an incoming Nissan dealership for vehicle storage.
Supporters of the restaurant carried signs reading Ã¬Rebuild it and they will come,Ã® Ã¬Christos, just say yes,Ã® Ã¬HarveyÃs and JohnieÃs equal BobÃsÃ® and Ã¬Fat Boys Rock.Ã®
Ã¬I experienced a true moment of happiness,Ã® said Downey resident and JohnieÃs advocate Analisa Ridenour about efforts to reopen a restaurant on the site. Ã¬We look to [the City Council] for leadership to bring [Big Boy)] here. We applaud your efforts.Ã®
More than half of the building that housed the restaurant was illegally demolished Jan. 7, 2007. A former tenant of the site, Ardas Yanik, who operated a used car dealership there and sought to build a shopping center, was found guilty of illegal demolition last October.
The lease reverted back to Smyrniotis, a Downey resident, who has pledged to cooperate with restoration efforts by the city.
Several people used the JohnieÃs experience to emphasize the need for an historic preservation ordinance to control the demolition of historic buildings.
Ã¬This incident could start the reincarnation of the whole area,Ã® resident George Redfox said. Ã¬We need a historic preservation law. Without such a law landmark buildings could go. We have a lot of things worth preserving,Ã®
Another Downey resident, Kathleen Perez, agreed.
Ã¬We must adopt an ordinance before bulldozers destroy DowneyÃs past. We believe in saving history and in miracles,Ã® she said. - Photo by Arnold Adler
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