Hermosa Beach kicked off a two-weekend Summer Music Series Aug. 17-18, drawing thousands to the beach for a day of free live music, artisan food trucks and craft brews.
But, the event—a fresh take on a long-standing concert series under the stewardship of a new producer—drew concern from some local restaurants and retailers who claim they are still reeling from the negative impacts of the previous weekend’s Teen Choice Awards, which forced parking lot and road closures all around Pier Avenue leading up to the Aug. 11 event.
At the center of the complaints was the newly implemented beer garden—the first alcohol allowed as part of the event—which was set up in cordoned-off Parking Lot A just south of Pier Avenue off Beach Drive and 11th Street.
“They have this parking lot blocked off again, that really hurts my breakfast business,” explained Sean Carleton, the general manager at Hennessey’s Tavern on Sunday afternoon.
Carleton said in the days leading up to Teen Choice, Hennessey's had one of the worst sales weeks on record. He said the large fenced-in area down the middle of Pier Avenue that housed the exclusive red-carpet for the awards show was a major hindrance to foot traffic.
“It drastically impacted business,” he said, noting the restaurant was down 40 percent on the day of Teen Choice. “There can be a fence, you’ve got to keep people safe, but why are you building walls in our town? For what was supposed to be a local event, it didn’t feel very local.”
Carleton was hesitant to say whether the impact of the Summer Series—which has a much different footprint than Teen Choice, according to Hermosa Beach Public Information Officer Laura Mecoy—will be equally as impactful for the establishments on Pier Avenue, but did vocalize continued concern about the parking lot closure.
“In previous years, the (Summer Series) has been somewhat good for us...ultimately it brings more people down to the pier and I think it’s been a positive event,” Carleton said. “August is the busiest month in Hermosa Beach for all these businesses on the pier. This is our time to shine...I just don’t think you should block off parking lots during the busiest month.”
Hermosa local and restaurant worker Candace Catalina said limiting parking as well as outsourcing food trucks and breweries for the beer garden was a source of concern for establishments on Pier.
“To take away even more parking and on top of that...to take away business from the locals...is kind of a smack in the face to everyone here,” said Catalina, who echoed similar sentiments about the Summer Series coming on the heels of Teen Choice. “Blocking the roads, blocking the streets, blocking parking...it’s kind of hard. It’s like a winter month in the peak summer season.”
Cory Brennan, chief executive of 5B Artists + Media, the company that produced the Summer Series, said the beer garden helped to offset the cost of the free event. South Bay Brew Ha Ha featured 10 South Bay breweries, including Hermosa Brewery and King Harbor Brewing. Tickets were $30 for 10 tasting tickets or a buy-as-you-go option.
“We’re working with the community as much as we can,” said Brennan, who is also a Manhattan Beach local. “We’re not trying to take away business. We’re trying to find a way to monetize a great, free summer event on the beach...we want to encourage people to come to the South Bay and enjoy local restaurants and establishments.”
As the second weekend of the Summer Series approaches Aug. 24 and 25, Brennan said his company will be downsizing the beer garden in light of the concerns raised and because of a smaller turnout than what was originally expected. The garden will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. this weekend, with sales of tasting tickets ending at 5 p.m., he added.
“We’re hearing what the community has to say and doing the best we can to adjust to those concerns,” Brennan explained. “We’re going to reduce the beer garden as much as we can to still give a safe, secure experience.”
Hermosa Beach officials doubled down on 5B’s assurance the beer garden would be made smaller to free up parking and said the city will work closely with local businesses as well as 5B to ensure a successful second weekend of the Series with limited impact.
“We were pleased to see the Pier Plaza restaurants packed with customers in the evenings as the Hermosa Beach Summer Series brought many visitors and Hermosa locals alike to downtown Hermosa,” Mayor Stacey Armato said. “We understand some of the businesses have expressed concerns and we look forward to continuing to work with them and the Hermosa Beach Summer Series producers going into next weekend.”
Brennan said his company is open to local feedback as well and advised members of the community to get in touch by sharing their thoughts at email@example.com.
The city of Hermosa Beach is also seeking feedback from the community on Teen Choice at http://www.hermosabch.org/index.aspx?recordid=1387&page=28.