Garden Grove

Karaoke permit denied by city council

A PERMIT TO have karaoke entertainment at a troubled restaurant was denied unanimously by the Garden Grove City Council on Tuesday night (Pexels/Susan Chowdhury).

By Jim Tortolano

Reversing a controversial action of two weeks ago, the Garden Grove City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to reject the appeal of a problem-plagued restaurant seeking approval to have karaoke entertainment on the premises.

The council voted 7-0 to back an earlier decision by the city’s planning commission to refuse a conditional use permit for the Pho Hoa An restaurant, located at 14291 Euclid St., an act which had been supported by police.

Before the council voted Tuesday night, it heard a report from the police department listing new violations by the operator of the eatery, despite a promise on July 10 to comply with all state and city laws and ordinances.

“I thought I had conditional approval that night” for the karaoke, said Kimberly Lo, the restaurant’s operator. “I ask for forgiveness. I will comply 100 percent of the time from now on.”

What the council had actually done was continue the matter to July 24. Councilman Phat Bui said, “You speak English very well,” and added that he had carefully explained to her what was expected. “I am very disappointed.”

The original vote was 5-2 to continue the matter and perhaps offer an accommodation with a six-month probationary period, but public complaints – including an opinion piece from The Tribune – along with police reports of additional violations such as smoking and karaoke on the premises shifted the votes of Mayor Steve Jones and councilmembers John O’Neill, Phat Bui, Thu Ha Nguyen and Kim Nguyen.

The original advocates of denying the permit were Kris Beard and Stephanie Klopfenstein.

“We got a lot of backlash from the community,” said Jones. Kim Nguyen said “I stuck my neck out” in support of Lo, despite a long list of violations by the restaurant. O’Neill, speaking remotely via teleconferencing from Fish Camp, California, said he had “wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt” in agreeing originally to continue the matter.

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