Friday, September 27, 2002
C.A. Finds Hooters Boosters Too Slow to Get Liquor License
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The would-be operators of a Hooters restaurant in Long Beach simply did not try hard enough to get a liquor license, and should not be off the hook for failing to live up to their end of a lease agreement, an appeals court ruled yesterday.
A company called Long Beach Wings hired an expediter to help find the way to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control office to get the license, Presiding Justice Candace Cooper of Div. Eight noted in the unpublished opinion. They also hired lawyer/lobbyist Mark Armbruster to attend City Council meetings to fend off community opposition to opening up a local Hooters—part of a national chain that features scantily clad waitresses, a lively bar, a young clientele and the motto, “delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.”
But Cooper said the Wings and their principalsó-Larry Klinghoffer, Douglas Schwartz and Larry Spitcaufskyódid not hire their experts soon enough.
Even though they had not yet signed the lease with property owners Oscar and Harriet Krinsky by the “effective date,” Sept. 1, 1998, Cooper said, they—or at least their experts—should have known that they needed to apply for the liquor license by then if the restaurant was to open on time. The presiding justice said all parties knew when the lease was to commence.
The Wings’ expediteró-a former director of the state ABCó-did not even send his clients the documents they had to complete until Oct. 19. But with no licenses, there would be no Hooters, as the lease dictated that the restaurant be opened or the lease be terminated by Dec. 1.
The terms also provided that the Wings would use their best efforts to obtain all necessary licenses in a timely manner.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Tracy T. Moreno heard expert testimony from still more expediters and concluded that the Wings had done what they could to wrest a license from the ABC. He awarded double attorney fees to the Wings’ lawyers for their trouble.
But Cooper said Moreno erred.
“We understand the trial court’s reluctance to impose any burden on a party before execution of the lease,” the presiding justice said. “However, given the urgency of the time deadlines, a party should at least be obligated to inform its experts at the earliest possible date of the necessity of expediting the proceedings. [The Wings] failed to do so.”
The Superior Court will revisit the case, to determine whether the Krinskys met all their burdens under the contract.
Long Beach, meanwhile, has its Hooters. The restaurant opened its doors in a Pine Street building next to the one the Krinskys owned.
The case is Krinsky v. Long Beach Wings, B1486989.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company