Tito’s Tacos Comes Around, Welcomes Culver City CicLAvia Participants

Screenshot of Tito's Tacos Facebook post today.
Screenshot of Tito’s Tacos Facebook post today.

Today, Tito’s Tacos posted on Twitter and Facebook that they will be open during this Sunday’s CicLAvia – Culver City meets Venice. Tito’s emphasized that many of their employees take public transit and ride bikes to work every day. CicLAvia tweeted that they’ll be helping Tito’s out with bike and car parking that day.

This put to bed a surprisingly escalating controversy. It is perhaps not much as far as controversies go, but Tito’s had kicked a hornets’ nest by publishing a strongly-worded anti-CicLAvia piece at Culver City news outlet The Front Page. Tito’s owner Lynne Davidson stated, in part:

… immediately cancel the CicLAvia event or, at a bare minimum, that the streets surrounding Tito’s Tacos [not be] closed to through-traffic on Aug. 9, which traditionally is one the biggest days of the year for us.

If this ill-conceived event happens, Tito’s Tacos plans to file a claim under the Government Code against the City of Culver City and CicLAvia to recoup all damages the event causes to Tito’s Tacos.

The Front Page also published a response quoting extensively from City Councilman Jim Clarke in defense of CicLAvia. The discussion quickly degenerated into a volley of comments like, “Their tacos suck anyway.”

I first saw the controversy mentioned at Biking in L.A. The Militant Angeleno playfully referenced an earlier incident where a driver had crashed into Tito’s, temporarily shutting it down, “Rest assured that unlike your car-oriented customers, we won’t be crashing into your wall.”

Further articles ran in LAist and the L.A. Weekly. The controversy even reached national livability circles in the form of an article published this afternoon at The Atlantic‘s CityLab declaring Tito’s to be “on the wrong side of history.”

As one of the people who went door-to-door notifying businesses about CicLAvia from 2010 through 2012, I have to say that Tito’s response is just not that out of the ordinary. Especially given that this is the first time a CicLAvia event will take place on their street. Business owners are busy running their businesses. Many have never heard of CicLAvia and imagine it to be a bunch of number-bibbed spandex-clad outsiders racing past their establishment.

In fact, before CicLAvia even took place in Los Angeles, we heard stories about San Francisco’s ciclovía, called Sunday Streets, facing hostile opposition the first time it rolled through the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf area. Merchants there threatened to sue to block the event from taking place. Sunday Streets took place. Business was good. The next year, the area’s merchants’ association sponsored Sunday Streets.

CicLAvia is so radically different from what people expect that it’s just really difficult to get it until you actually experience one.

I want to encourage cyclists not to hate on Tito’s. They’re a lot like all the other businesses we support. My daughter and I will probably stop there for tacos this Sunday. The last time I was there was in 2011, when the city of L.A. striped bike lanes on Washington Place. And the tacos didn’t suck.

Maybe next year Tito’s will be sponsoring CicLAvia’s return.

  • james

    I’ve never been to Tito’s and don’t ever plan to. Their menu only shows ground beef tacos. And they appear to be named after a Yugoslav dictator. If you had gone to the one Mexican restaurant in Zagreb in the 1970s you probably would have also been limited to ground beef as a taco filler.

    How about a list of decent sources for tacos along the route.

  • bikecar101.com

    Too late — Tito’s Taco owner already voiced her opposition to CicLAvia in a citylab.com article. No love for Tito’s since Lynn did not get her way — sorry — maybe support ‘open streets events’ from the outset next time and support will be given.

  • Cory

    Did you read the article? Of course she already voiced her opposition – that’s what this article is about. Then she reversed her opinion. The author was just saying her initial reaction was not uncommon and we should try to cut her some slack and prove these events help rather than hinder businesses in the area. Sometimes people make mistakes and then try to fix them. Give her a chance to do so, maybe. Or not. Up to you.

  • stvr

    Tito’s lost me because of this.

  • TittyTaco

    never did like Tito’s, go to Cinco Mayo instead. Better quality and authentic mexican not taco bell mexican.

  • bikecar101.com

    Thank you for your comment. I did read the article. I also understand that there was a lack of research on Lynne Davidson’s part as a representative of a business that might be adversely affected by an ‘open streets’ event. I have made my fair share of mistakes and have also learned from them. What do we expect from her?

    We expect a business owner to do some research into an event (explore the possibilities of new customers, read opinions on opposition at previous ‘CicLAvia’ events in the past and solutions, etc.). As advocates for greater bicycle infrastructure, this is what we try to do. We expect nothing less.

    Had she done a quick search on the ‘LA Times’ website by typing into the search bar ‘CicLAvia’ — she would have seen some useful information. This might have changed her opinion. Instead, she chose to resort to a local news paper (‘The Front Page Online’) and publish an editorial on her opposition. This seems like a little more than a ‘hasty e-mail’ on her part. Furthermore, threatening to file a claim is serious. Should we take her seriously?

    We understand opposition to events surrounding ‘open streets’ from our advocacy efforts. A little research on her part might of revealed the opportunity for thousands — to hundreds of thousands ‘hungry people’ passing by her store on during the event — potential customers. Pretty amazing!

  • Cory

    I think we both agree it was a stupid and regrettable thing for her to do. I bet she’d agree, as well. I guess I’m just a fan of second chances. I hope the event goes great for everyone – I’m a big fan of ‘open streets’ events. Best of luck!

  • calwatch

    Some people like Taco Bell Mexican, though. Overall it worked out for them. Unfortunately, for some of the business on Venice Boulevard with parking in front of their businesses, like the Thai place I went to on Venice, Ciclavia doesn’t do much. The restaurant was pretty empty when I went.

  • Its always astonishing to me when business owners are against having more customers. I was extremely happy when the BIA in my town supported an initiative to put in segregated bike lanes on our main street at the expense of losing parking on one half. Several business owners talked about it and they seemed to genuinely believe that they would benefit by having more people be able to cycle there. This was a wonderful and refreshing view, and I cannot comprehend why it isn’t more common.

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