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DLANC Board Votes No Position on New Bar in The Must Space

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, February 08, 2011, at 11:49PM
Must_0160 Ed Fuentes

Must co-owners Rachel Thomas and Coly Den Haan stand at 5th and Spring in July

The fate of the space that once housed The Must wine bar was anything but clear at a meeting of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council on Tuesday evening, as a majority of the council's board chose to abstain from voting on David McGrath's plans to open a new bar in the location.

That left board president Patti Berman unsure whether a second vote should be taken on a new motion.

McGrath, who was present at Tuesday's meeting but did not speak, plans to reopen the 5th and Spring wine bar as J.P. Lounge, a restaurant and bar that would offer French cuisine. He is asking that The Must's beer and wine license be converted to allow a full line of liquor, and that the bar's closing time be extended until 2am.

Approximately 20 members of the public turned up to oppose McGrath's plans, with most speakers citing the manner in which McGrath gained possession of the bar space as their primary objection.

Furniture, wine inventory and kitchen equipment was emptied from The Must shortly after the bar closed on the night of July 3rd, part of a complicated business deal that has left owners Rachel Thomas and Coly Den Haan spending much of their time with lawyers and paperwork. McGrath purchased the wine bar and the Weeneez space next door, which he has since reopened as the Stray Cat Cafe.

It is unclear whether Tuesday's DLANC indecision will mean anything to the Zoning Administrator handling McGrath's requests. A hearing on the case was already held, and the file was left open for input to be received from the Council office, LAPD and the neighborhood council.

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