Restaurant blames city for loss of business

Posted at 5:07 PM, Sep 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-01 20:07:09-04

SAN DIEGO - Some locals are blaming San Diego City Hall for the disappearance of a staple on the main drag of University Heights, but now they're coming together to try to get it back.

Michael Goldman is one of those supporters. Whenever he has extra time, he makes sure to spend it at Small Bar on Park Boulevard.

"It's become a hub for the community," he said. "It's extremely inclusive, it represents a very diverse community, most of which gets along very well."

On a picture perfect Thursday, Goldman and everyone else at the quaint University Heights bar was sitting inside, and it wasn't by choice.

"It's sunshiny," Goldman said. "Today would be a much nicer day to have lunch and a beer on the patio than to be stuck inside."

The tables and chairs out front vanished because the seven-year-old Small Bar never had a permit.

It's not what was happening on the patio that caught the city's attention; it's what some neighbors say they were smelling in the alley behind the bar that brought out the inspectors.

"I believe there was one neighbor who said it smelled like hamburgers," said Small Bar owner Karen Barnett.

Barnett said the exhaust issue has been resolved, but the patio is causing the bigger headache. Losing it could mean losing business, and she said she could face thousands of dollars in fines. She said the building's previous owner installed the patio illegally, but she's the one being punished.

"I feel like they're trying to scare me, and I don't think that's what city government should do," Barnett said.

A spokesman for the city says a hearing will be scheduled with Small Bar to discuss options for the patio.

Now, customers like Goldman are drumming up support. A petition on has more than 1,000 signatures, and a GoFundMe page to help with expenses has raised more than $2,200.