Conroy's Burbank

Two years after neighbors of the old Conroy's Flowers in Burbank successfully blocked a Taco Bell from moving into the site, they've found the right fit: a new cafe owned by Burbank resident Bryan Sim. (File photo / February 1, 2014)

A little more than two years ago, residents flooded City Hall to protest a 24-hour Taco Bell proposed in their neighborhood along Burbank Boulevard, concerned that traffic congestion and trash would disrupt their quality of life.

Many of those same residents returned to those same chambers Monday, but this time, for a different purpose: to support a cafe proposed in that same location, the vacant building where Conroy’s flower shop used to sit.

That struck a chord with the Burbank Planning Board, which on Monday unanimously approved bringing “California Eatery,” along with a two-story office building and another one-story medical office building, to the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Buena Vista Street.

That includes a parking variance that would allow the site to operate with 34 parking spots instead of the required 50.

“Since it’s been closed, I’ve dreamt of a cafe in that location,” said resident Michelle Webster. “I want it to open tomorrow.”

More than 70 of her neighbors felt similarly, signing a petition, coordinated by the cafe’s owner Bryan Sim, in favor of the project.

“A 24-hour drive-thru was the wrong fit for the neighborhood,” said resident Vinny DiGiulio, referring to the Taco Bell project that residents successfully blocked. “The proposal before you tonight is a perfect fit.”

Board members credited the residents for taking ownership of their neighborhood.

“I have to take my hat off to you guys — you stepped forward and said, ‘Hey, we want something different,’ and you made something happen,” said board member Doug Drake. “Look what your reward is, something you’ve wanted.”

Sim, a local resident and operator of Doughnut Hut in Burbank, will also operate the new eatery, which will be open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The restaurant will open at 2411 W. Burbank Blvd. in May, Sim said.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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