Saturday, March 5, 2005

Jayburger Update

We wrote last month about the sudden closure of Jay's Jayburger, the legendary burger shack at the corner of Virgil and Santa Monica Blvd.

The L.A. Times has more details in today's paper. Apparently the owner of the land where Jay's is located claims that they never forced the owner to close -- but Jay's owners maintain that they were forced out. In the middle of this "he said, she said" argument, however, it's pretty apparent that the burger shack is closed for good.

Writes the paper:

JayAnn Rojas (daughter of founder Lionel "Jay" Coffin) said she was forced to close it Feb. 1, when (landowners Mary and Paul Lee) ordered the stand's storage container removed.

But the Lees contend that they own the burger stand because it is permanently bolted to a concrete foundation. And they assert they've gone to great lengths to preserve Rojas' burger business and to allow for storage space while upgrading the property around it.

Last month the Lees began developing a mini-mall behind the burger stand. To make room for construction, the stand's customer parking area was eliminated and a storage area used for Jay's Jayburger supplies was demolished.

Rojas said that after the Lees ordered her to remove the stand's temporary storage bin she was forced to lay off her six employees and close the business. A short time later, a fence went up around the construction site, sealing off the burger joint.

"I've been forced out. They're holding my building hostage. It's insane," Rojas said.

"At the very least I wanted to get my belongings out. I still have perishable product in there that vendors were willing to buy back from me. I can't even shut off the electricity because I don't want food to rot in the refrigerators."

Rojas said her intention is to sell the stand's equipment and remove the structure. "My dad said if they give you trouble, get the stand out of there," she said.

The Lees say they did not force the closure of Jay's Jayburgers.

"We're not holding anything hostage," said their daughter, Cindy Lee Whitmore. "The things inside that are not fixtures I told her she can have."

But the burger stand itself is her family's property, said Whitmore, an attorney who lives in La CaƱada Flintridge.

"I've told her in no uncertain terms that the burger stand is a fixture to the land. We're of the understanding we own it. In terms of demolition, I told her as owners we'd consider it trespassing."

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