Monday, December 25, 2006

Maria's Italian Kitchen Robbed

MySpace blogs are always a good source of information. More than how some teenage girl is depressed over some teenage boy. Sometimes it turns out to be on-the-scene crime reporting:

So basically, last night I'm standing outside after work [MAX Restaurant] with Laura hanging out... smoking a cig, enjoying my mini wine buzz, when out of frickin NO WHERE this kid comes running out of the restaurant right next door, Maria's Italian Kitchen, with his wrists and ankles and HEAD ducktaped!!!!! We're obviously staring wondering whether this is some kind of weird Mexican joke or ritual that we just don't understand when he sees us and starts pointing frantically towards the kitchen door of Maria's while still running backwards. We stand there, I think a bit shocked, and watch him run down to the end of the alleyway and stand there for a few seconds looking down at us before he runs off down the street.

A few minutes later another young guy comes just strolling out of the same door like it's nobodies business... So I ask him "Hey... is everything alright? We just saw a guy coming running out all ducktaped. It was kinda weird." He says, "Yeah. Don't know nothing." walks a little ways and then bolts down the street.

Meanwhile, Laura's boyfriend Rich comes out of the restaurant, we tell him what happens, and he basically says, "Bollox." (He's welsh.)

Two minutes after that, the manager of Maria's busts out the backdoor breathless and shaking. "Did you see two guys come running out of here? They tried to break into the safe! They had guns!"

So we're like... what the fuck. We run inside OUR restaurant, get Jan the owner, and we're like,

"oh my god! what do we do?!!?"

"Obviously. Call the cops."


So I do, and all of a sudden I'm in 911 emergency mode.

"Yes. Ma'am? There been an attempted robbery. I'm at Maria's Italian Kitchen. Suspects are one hispanic male ducktaped by the hands, feet and mouth, headingnorth up the alley on foot. Suspect two is wearing a grey hoodie sweatshirt..."

At this point two cops are already walking up and I'm waving them over while still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher.

Me: "There's been a break in!"

Cops: "Hang up the phone."

Me: (into the phone) "Oh my god, two male police officers are walking towards me and told me to hang up the phone. DO I HANG UP THE PHONE?!"

911 dispatcher: "Yes. Hang up the phone."

In a matter of minutes there were about fifteen cops swarming the place, through the restaurant with the heavy aritillery (seriously... one had like a frickin rocket launcher) and finally all out back listening to all our statements for the next half hour.

The funny thing was... major holes in the manager's story. First one gun, then a shotgun, then a pistol. Didn't want to call the police right off the bat. Wasn't shaky until the cops showed up... I personally think it was an inside job and I tell my new friend Ray Guitierrez, the cop, this. He nods and says, "something's fishy."
The LAPD tells me that this is not connected to the Ski-Mask bandits and it was a dishwasher and a few friends who tied up the manager and the other dishwasher to rob them. They didn't get away with much and will not be reporting back to work ever again.

By the way, this happened on December 15th or so.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

California Pizza Kitchen arrives at Fashion Square

I never thought this was a big deal. So it was a surprise to me when a room full of residents got excited as it was announced last Spring. Interestingly enough, the General Manager of the mall was recently appointed to the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.

By the way, this is a CPK ASAP:
The new CPK ASAP is designed for customers "on-the-go." The menu features a specialized selection of CPK's most popular menu items along with a "grab-n-go" case stocked with fresh salads, sandwiches and beverages.

While the CPK ASAP has ample seating inside for those looking to dine-in, the new restaurant also has a specific Take-Out counter intended to facilitate the process for guests wanting to take their food to go. A newly designed interior features soft tones
and warm yellows, with large flat screen televisions for those looking to grab a seat at the counter.

Its menu will not only include a variety of CPK's most popular hearth-baked pizzas, salads and appetizers, it will also feature nine sandwiches and two soups that are unique to CPK ASAP. The new French Dip Panini along with the Grilled Vegetable Panini, Turkey Club Panini and a variety of sandwiches including Roast Beef, Chicken Salad and Herb Chicken Focaccia are just a few of the innovative items that will be available. Also available at CPK ASAP are CPK's signature hearth-baked pizzas in a larger, 14-inch size, perfect for sharing with friends or family.

The 3,000 square foot CPK ASAP seats 95 people and is located at 14006 Riverside Drive on Level One near the Main Entrance of Fashion Square Mall. Hours of operation are Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Monday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Guests can dine-in or place a take-out order by calling (818) 783-5001. [Business Wire]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Represent East Valley!

LA Times dug deeper into last week's story of the Valley's new census report and came out with a nice article focusing on the differences between the East and West Valley, respectively divided by the 405 Freeway. But I don't like how they painted this picture:

On one end of the Valley [west], gated mansions and old ranch houses still preside over well-groomed neighborhoods; on the other [east], some residents still don't have sewer hookups or street lights.
Not too long ago (but like before I was born), the Valley was the "country." No sewer hookups and streets lights was life. It seems LA Times is trying to paint an overly dramatic picture here as I continue to walk and bike extremely dark and wealthy streets here in Sherman Oaks. A lot of this is choice and not poor people or city services.