By Joe Delaplaine
Jasmin Camarena works as a waitress at La Fiesta Brava, which her father owns and runs. Her entire family has worked there for the past twenty-one years at the same location in Venice, on the North-West corner of 4th Street and Rose Avenue.
The restaurant is a small, comfortable, local favorite that has always served great Mexican food at (in my opinion) ridiculously affordable prices, especially when compared to the recent wave of “up-scale” restaurants attempting to gentrify Rose and Abbott Kinney Avenues. Think “Superba” among others.
Until this year, the property owner, Miriam (unknown last name), also ran “Venice Ranch Market” next door to La Fiesta Brava, sharing the same lot. However, Miriam recently closed the market and sold the entire property to a new developer who already closed the Ranch Market and plans to close La Fiesta Brava and develop the entire property into a larger, new “high-end” restaurant.
This new owner also informed the Camarena family that they will have to close immediately upon his plans being approved.
Jasmin, her brothers and most of her family have worked at La Fiesta Brava for the past two decades and know the local community well. In fact, while working at the restaurant Jasmin’s aunt met and eventually married her husband of nineteen years. It probably helped that he also lived across the street and was a regular customer.
Like other, long-time members of the community, the Camarenas have seen too many wealthy developers relentlessly attempt to “clean up” Venice, first by buying affordable properties in established neighborhoods, then immediately pricing the existing tenants out by raising rents or refusing to renew businesses leases, until nothing of the original neighborhood remains.
Based on the pace of recent development, Rose Avenue seems destined to turn into the next “Third Street Promenade”, unless the local community pressures the City to keep long-time, family-run businesses like La Fiesta Brava open. A write-in campaign and petition to both the California Coastal Commission and the Los Angeles City Council has begun, but requires A LOT of community support immediately, seeing as how the new property owner plans to close the restaurant as soon as possible. Copies of the petition are available inside the restaurant and the community’s encouraged to contact the City directly.
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