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Metro's Regional Connector to displace Weiland Brewery and others in Little Tokyo

By Andrew Lopez
Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2012, at 10:38AM
Flickr via Tim Adams

Gold Line station at Pico/Aliso.

The original Weiland Brewery began its history in the Little Tokyo area in 1898 before its doors closed during prohibition in the 1920s. Now the restaurant and bar that inhabits the same name and space is faced with a similarly bleak future, as Metro will assume ownership of the property so its proposed Regional Connector light rail can run underneath it.

And what does all of this mean for 12-year-old Weiland Brewery?

“It means the end of it,” owner Rick Bennett said.

The light rail will also displace at least two other restaurants in the area, including Señor Fish and The Spice Table. With backing from the city and state, the light rail project took off without much say from his side, Bennett said.

“A lot of consideration wasn’t given to a small business owner,” he complained. “I’m sad it has to destroy the restaurant there, but life moves on.”

However, executive officer of the Regional Connector project Diego Cardoso said that Metro has worked for the past few years to ensure public input was heard.

"We've done a lot of work with the stakeholders of this project," Cardoso said.

When working in a high density area such as Downtown, there will be obstacles facing local businesses and impacts to streets as it is built, Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said.

Little Tokyo will benefit from what Cardoso said would act as a mini-Union Station, where Gold Line rails and the Blue Line would meet.

"Think of what that will do for the Little Tokyo area," Cardosa said. "A lot of pedestrians, a lot of activity."

For the businesses being displaced, relocation costs will be paid for by Metro, but the specifics are still unclear, Sotero explained.

Though it’s too early to begin thinking about relocating, if he does decide to, Bennett would want to keep the restaurant in Little Tokyo because of its history there, saying it would feel disingenuous for it to be anywhere else.

While much is still up in the air, one thing is known: the restaurants in question will be open to all until the project breaks ground - pending approval by the Metro board on March 22nd and a green-light by the Federal government - which may be as early as 2014.

The 1.9 mile long, $1.37 billion project will enable riders to travel from Long Beach to Montclair and East Los Angeles to Santa Monica in one sitting, improving “access to both local and regional destinations,” according to the metro website.

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