Marco Rodriguez said he served a 60-day notice of termination of tenancy to Alicia Feria Oct. 19, 2022. Rodriguez is the owner of Gloria’s Cuisine LA, and Feria owns Ojo de Agua, a business selling house plants and purified water in the property adjacent to Rodriguez’s restaurant. According to Rodriguez, he bought the property that his restaurant and Feria’s shop sit on from their previous landlord in 2018.
The Northeast Local (NeLo) is a chapter of the LA Tenant’s Union (LATU) that protested in support of Feria Dec. 9, 2022, and demanded a boycott of Gloria’s Cuisine LA January 2023.
“They are attacking me,” Rodriguez said. “[I am a] Latino, an immigrant and a queer person. I am a hard working person who strives to do their best, and I am about to accomplish my dreams, and they are jeopardizing them.”
According to Rodriguez, he has the legal right to use his property. Rodriguez said he hired an attorney because he believes Feria will refuse to vacate, despite not being able to get away with staying.
According to a public statement from Gloria’s Cuisine LA Jan. 20, 2023, Rodriguez and Feria reached a verbal agreement in August 2022 that Feria would vacate the commercial unit in two months, and Feria would remain rent-free. The statement said that in October 2022, Rodriguez asked Feria about her relocation plans and that Feria refused to keep their agreement.
“The goal would be for them to let me stay there,” Feria said. “And if I’m not gonna be able to stay there, I don’t know what’s going to happen to my business, because I don’t even have money to go [elsewhere].”
Alma Angel, a 27-year Highland Park resident and a member of the LATU, has taken up Feria’s cause. Angel said Feria paid her rent in August and tried to pay in September, but Rodriguez would not accept the September check because he wanted her to vacate. According to Angel, Feria is unable to vacate her unit because Ojo de Agua is how she makes a living.
“Even though it is legal for [Rodriguez] to evict her, it’s not right,” Angel said. “If [Rodriguez] really does want to model the way that a business doesn’t contribute to displacement, he can get rid of the eviction against [Feria] and allow her to stay there and pay her accessible rent.”
Rodriguez said it is his dream to grow his business and that the success of his restaurant has been surreal, especially as a first-time business owner. He said about 38 people can be seated in his current dining room and he hopes to use the unit that currently houses Ojo de Agua to double his seating capacity.
Since the LATU’s mobilization against Rodriguez, supporters defending Ojo de Agua have protested on N. Avenue 50 in front of Gloria’s Cuisine LA, standing in front of the doors to Rodriguez’s restaurant. Rodriguez said the protestors have been aggressive despite them having no concrete reason to protest against him and his business. He said the protestors have been physically aggressive toward customers walking into the restaurant and that he fears the protests will continue for weeks to come. Protests are ongoing as of Feb. 19, 2023, with crowds gathered outside of Gloria’s Cuisine LA. Feria has addressed protesters and thanked them for their support, Rodriguez said.
“The police have had to get involved [during the protests]… to protect our peace,” Rodriguez said. “They harass the neighboring businesses, and it’s also effecting them in every way.”
According to Angel, a recorded meeting took place Jan. 13, 2023, where Feria asked Rodriguez to allow her to keep her business going for six more months while she recovered from a stroke she suffered Dec. 10.
Rodriguez said Feria was interested in a negotiation, and that now he must take the legal route with this eviction because he does not think there is any other way for him to proceed. Jan. 23, 2023, Rodriguez said he served Feria a 30-day notice of termination of tenancy. He said he agreed to a truce during the holiday season.
Feria said she hopes Rodriguez will allow her to stay because she cannot move Ojo de Agua anywhere else because local rents are too high. According to Feria, the rent she pays is much lower than what she would have to pay anywhere else in LA.
Feria said she believes small businesses like her own can exist next to restaurants that are more expensive like Gloria’s, and the only thing that prevents that is people like Rodriguez.
“[Ojo de Agua is] a small business and he knows how much [the eviction] has deteriorated her health and how it’s affected her and he still doesn’t seem to care,” Angel said.
*The interviews with Marco Rodriguez and Alicia Feria were translated from Spanish by Nicole Ríos (senior).
Contact Anna Beatty at email@example.com
Her original lease had the rules. It’s crazy to me she thinks she can squat the property! I may be in the minority but I think the owner is within his rights to evict her.