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Casa De Luz cooperating with city to stay open

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TWC News: Casa De Luz cooperating with city to stay open
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A one-of-a-kind South Austin restaurant is now fighting to stay open after hearing concerns raised by the Austin's city leaders.

Casa De Luz serves as a de facto South Austin headquarters for a certain vegan, meditative lifestyle. Each day, they serve a communal dining experience, focused on vegan fare.

"It very much plays the role in the yoga and meditation community that Antone's was the spark for the music industry here," regular customer Carl Lindemann said.

But city leaders say safety concerns overshadow what Casa De Luz offers. Assistant Fire Chief Richard Davis says crews cannot access the building if there was a fire.

"The garden portion of this takes up the access and prevents the apparatus from coming within 150 feet of the structure," Assistant Chief Davis said.

Code compliance originally gave Casa de Luz a month to fix the problem or close its doors.

After hearing from the owners on Wednesday, the Building and Standards Commission is giving them three months to draft a plan.

Roger Chan represents the restaurant and is a former Austin Assistant City Manager.

"The concerns and the questions that the commissioners have are spot-on,” Chan said. “They were the same as us. We are delighted that everybody came together."

Their plan is to install a sprinkler system in the building which would mitigate the current fire hazard and save the garden.

It's a move that Lindemann hopes will progress without any roadblocks.

"It would be so tempting to those who don't understand the value of this little garden spot to find reason to get rid of it and put in another high-priced condominium," he said.

The restaurant's permit allows it to operate only as a cafeteria. Casa de Luz owners also plan to change the permit, so it can continue operating as a restaurant.

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