Once the Doughboys Saga began---from the first signs of stress at the original 3rd Street location to the final days of the Highland location and accusations---we could never get owner Frank Waldman on the phone to confirm or deny what was going on with his mini-restaurant empire. But he finally sets the record straight in one long, 2,244 word letter now on the Doughboys website. It's a heartwarming tale of how Doughboys came to be, opening in 1992 out of sheer passion and flour, a great staff and customers, having his red velvet cake on Oprah, but then it spirals into a tragic story of dealing with obsessive neighbors, construction issues, city permits and bureacracy, having a standing warrant for his arrest, thousands of dollars lost, unpaid employees, and utlimately the demise of all of his restaurants. The letter is too long to post in its entirety, but we have some highlights, next.
From the Doughboys website: "Within the last few years, as 3rd street has grown, some members of the Wilshire homeowners association have expressed concern over the parking situation, noise, and general congestion in the area. Their concern is certainly legitimate....In our case, there were many calls to the Department of Building and Safety, our councilman's office, the police, Health Department, and other agencies. Police officers and officials from their respective offices responded to every call, and almost all were deemed “no violation”. The police in particular, never cited one incident in which we violated any law or civil code. A Lawsuit brought by our immediate neighbor to the south for excessive noise was thrown out after the many hours of recordings and videotape furnished by the neighbor prompted the judge to declare that all he really heard were police helicopters.
...And while the many calls to the Department of Building and Safety alleging illegal construction proved false, it ultimately prompted an investigation into the 2 spaces we occupied. The original one and the one we took over later. As it turned out, the “restaurant” we acquired in 1993 had never changed its zoning status, as would have been required, to convert its use from “retail” to “restaurant” use by its owner...I obviously resisted just closing my business and continued to search for a solution. This was a long and tedious search involving many people. And it took quite a long time. So long, in fact, that I was fined several times, and was ultimately charged with criminal prosecution for non-compliance. There is currently a warrant out for my arrest. I was told by the city attorney that to dispose of the criminal matter, I would need to obtain a building permit to show we were officially on the way to compliance.
...Every penny available to me, including the refinancing of my home, the virtual draining of funds from our Highland location, and money and work from friends, was used for the work needing to be done. Over $100,000 was spent on construction. As we neared completion, and were 4 to 5 weeks away from what we hoped would be our final inspection, our building permit was revoked. When a senior Building and Safety inspector was contacted by my architect, he was told that the inspector who approved the permit made a “mistake” and overlooked some things.
...We were eventually led to our city councilman, Jack Weiss...The end result was that the space in question could NOT be used as a restaurant. That effectively closed Doughboys for good. And for good measure, that member of the councilman’s staff said to my landlord, “he really needs to take care of that criminal matter”. This was the criminal matter that was to be disposed of upon our receipt of a building permit.
...But By far the worst however, was the loss of, and the inability to pay many of the employees who had worked for me so long. These were the people responsible for the growth of doughboys. No one person can build a company by himself...These people all trusted me to fulfill my part of the bargain.
...So, regarding the rumors that continue to circulate, the people who start them, the people who believe them, and even the people who couldn’t care less, my goal here was simply to tell the true story. I am not trying to change anyone’s mind, or convince anyone I’m a wonderful guy. This is no marketing ploy, or sympathy plea. Like all people, there are those who like me, and those who don’t. And no matter what I do, I will always have both. Ultimately, my conscience will allow me to sleep at night or not.---Good Night, Frank Waldman"
· EaterWire: Doughboys Shuttered [~ELA~]
· Doughboys Highland Shutter: The Evidence [~ELA~]
· Doughboys Follow Up [~ELA~]