basecampAs I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite places to get together with friends over great coffee or a delicious meal is the Basecamp/High Horse Dinette in Burbank near the Equestrian Center on the corner of Riverside Drive and Mariposa. The eatery is divided into two places on an adjoining lot. The building on the corner is the High Horse part. It has all outdoor seating and houses the kitchen for both places. Several yards away, set further back on a much bigger lot that faces Riverside Drive is Basecamp which has indoor and outdoor-seating.

For years, the corner property had been used for restaurants, but the other building on the larger lot had mostly been used for storage and was a bit of an eyesore. For a long time the corner place was vacant and then one day, a big “Leased” sign appeared and the whole neighborhood started to speculate on what it would be.

What a terrific surprise when not one, but two, connected restaurants, High Horse and Basecamp popped up. What an amazing transformation! Beautifully crafted wood benches and bars making clever use of the space available for seating had replaced the shabby, old and junky. No one before had ever quite figured out how to make the second property viable until the new owner, Jon Stocking, had the vision to turn the neglected building into a big, airy second restaurant with various little nooks for patrons to comfortably eat, drink and chat.

But Jon didn’t stop with “the look” of the place. Before he even opened, he’d studied his clientele. He created an eclectic and tasty menu featuring a variety of breakfasts, sandwiches, salads and freshly made-on-the-premises pastries available all day. Complimenting the food is a variety of fabulous coffee drinks, teas, and health drinks. There’s something tasty for everyone.

The Rancho District is an oasis of horse country in the middle of the city, inhabited by people of varying ages and stages in life: lots of families, singles and people who like animals, including dogs, horses, goats, and sheep. So when Goat Yoga began to get popular, Jon made room in the Basecamp parking lot (away from the homes on Mariposa and from the outdoor seating), for Goat Yoga to be available to customers on a few Saturdays every month. It’s been fun, well-organized, good exercise, and if you didn’t want to participate, you could just pet a goat (very relaxing) or one of the goat’s friends, a horse or pony.

As the first year has passed, Basecamp and High Horse has become a wonderful gathering place; little groups have begun using it for writing, discussions, small workshops and I was hoping to read to children on a few Saturdays or after school.

Since the opening of the Dinette, Jon’s plans were to eventually extend the hours until 8 PM and offer his clientele beer and wine to go with their happy hour snacks or dinner. He applied for a license to the Department Of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and passed their inspection. But then an unforeseen and seemingly daunting problem cropped up. It seems that there are five people in the neighborhood who not only don’t y want the restaurant to serve beer and wine, they really don’t want any restaurant there at all. They’ve lodged complaints with ABC to stop Basecamp/High Horse from serving alcohol. And now, because of a technicality, all forms of entertainment: Goat Yoga, the writers group, reading to kids, workshops, must cease. Why are these few causing so much difficulty?

There are two main reasons: First, they think the serving of beer and wine will lead to prostitution and drugs. (REALLY?!) Second, they believe that the restaurant causes noise. (Did I mention it’s located on a main street?)

So this got me to thinking… what’s really going on? Jon Stocking has gone out of his way to create a neighborhood eatery that brings people together in the most positive way. The majority of people want the restaurant and all that it offers. So, why do five people whose irrational fears direct their behavior get to dictate what can or cannot go on in a place that is more beneficial for the neighborhood than not?

My next step is to go to ABC and see if the complaint about the restaurant can be countered and negated. No one wants to cause trouble for these five. We’d just like them to put aside their prejudices and really give the dinette a chance. Perhaps, a second look can change their minds.

Please, if you have any suggestions, leave them here. We learn from each other.