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Bolstering businesses

The following letter was sent to Councilman Walt Keller regarding comments in the Sept. 3 issue of The Malibu Times.)

As a business operator in Malibu for the past seven years, I was deeply dismayed to hear that the Business and Finance Subcommittee turned down the $24,000 grant from the county approved to create a new economic plan for the city of Malibu. How sad not to have the support of our local government when all of our businesses have suffered over these many months due to the construction on Pacific Coast Highway and El Nino related closures.

The Aug. 30, 1998, edition of the Los Angeles Times reports that Malibu’s revenue from her businesses’ tax dollars has declined 11.8 percent in the first quarter of the year. Our sales at Granita were down 45 percent over Labor Day weekend. These are distressing numbers to any business owner, but even more upsetting when you are quoted as saying, “Most people don’t see the need for business. . . . If they were serving the residents, there wouldn’t be that much of a falloff.”

Perhaps what you say is true, Councilman Keller. We are dependent on patronage outside the immediate area of Malibu. Although our restaurant is extremely popular among the locals, we could never survive with their support alone. Our local sales represent only 20-30 percent of our business. The remainder of our revenue is from the “tourists;” a mixture of residents of the Palisades, Santa Monica, Ventura County, Calabasas, Westlake Village and, of course, some out-of-towners staying at local hotels.

Even though the local businesses comprise a minor percentage of our sales, Granita is committed to supporting only nonprofit groups that benefit our local community and residents. The following is a partial listing of those groups: Our Lady of Malibu; American Cancer Society, Malibu Branch; American Heart Association, Malibu Branch; The Malibu Methodist Church; The Malibu Presbyterian Church; The Webster School; Juan Cabrillo School; Malibu High School; The Malibu Kiwanis; The Malibu Woman’s Club; The Surfrider Foundation; The Malibu Little League; Pepperdine University; The Curtis School; Malibu Community Aid; The Calmont School; The Malibu Chamber of Commerce; The Malibu Methodist Nursery School; The Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue; Free Arts for Abused Children; The Children’s Creative Workshop; Leo Cabrillo State Park and The Lost Hills/Malibu Sheriff’s Department.

Unfortunately, we could not support all of these causes without the business support of “tourists.” As one of many Malibu businesses that puts much back into the local community that it serves, it is discouraging to learn that our government is not interested in our survival. Without their help, many of the businesses that serve the residents will cease to exist. When they fail, I hope that Malibu locals are not treated as unwelcome “tourists” when they find it inconveniently necessary to do their shopping in Santa Monica, Westlake Village or elsewhere.

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Jannis Swerman, general manager

Granita Restaurant

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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