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50-Year Westwood Legend Sepi’s to Close Following Ugly Lease Dispute

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There are starkly different opinions as to what’s going on

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Westwood institution Sepi’s seems destined for a dark death following issues with its current location and its liquor license, though not everyone in the UCLA-adjacent community is taking the loss sitting down. Some, it seems, even believe that there are forces working behind the scenes to keep the restaurant from relocating anywhere else in Westwood.

Sepi’s has long been a casual hang for beers, food, and sports on TV, having first opened in Westwood way back in 1969. The Le Conte Avenue spot always played well with students thanks to its prodigious sub-$10 sandwich menu and inexpensive beers, and had for most seemed like a forever kind of spot in the neighborhood. That began to change as the restaurant crawled towards its 50th year, with the Daily Bruin reporting that owner Kifishia Kawachi has been trying to lock down a new lease with the landlord for some time, or at least a suitable spot for relocation.

But here’s where the story takes a darker turn. According to Westwood Village Improvement Association executive director Andrew Thomas, Sepi’s relocation efforts have been stymied by one man: Steven Sann, the chair of the Westwood Community Council. Thomas claims, via the UCLA’s student newspaper the Daily Bruin, that Sann has been pushing back against Sepi’s alcohol license application during its attempts to relocate, and that the Westwood Village Specific Plan that guides zoning for the community is making new available leases even harder to come by.

Sepi’s is classified as a fast food restaurant, which limits where it can operate within the neighborhood, and having someone like Sann allegedly working to tamp down on the restaurant’s new license attempts only makes any potential move even more difficult. Some are taking the news harder than others.

Via the Bruin, Sann has denied filing an appeal against Sepi’s. Regardless, a group of students and Westwood locals have begun a petition to save Sepi’s, accusing Sann within the petition of acting to thwart the restaurant and sports bar’s relocation. Eater also received an anonymous tip regarding the petition, which now has roughly 3,200 signatures. When asked about the petition, Sann told the Bruin he found it slanderous, but that hasn’t stopped folks from lashing out.

In the meantime, Sepi’s is still planning to close its doors by the end of the month, ending a 50-year run for the bar and restaurant.

Sepi’s. 10968 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, CA.