Riverwood Ranch resident Art Miner believes in getting things done
By: Eddie Rivera, News Editor
How rooted to the community is Crow’s Nest Sports Grille owner and local resident Art Miner? His daughter, now in college, had the same Mt. Gleason Middle School English teacher. He laughed, as he recalled the teacher’s reaction to making the connection between father and daughter: “You’re THAT Miner?”
Clearly, Art left an impression. These days, he has created a more indelible one, and one that has nothing to do with his recently acquired (well, two years now) restaurant and bar.
Over the last few months, Miner has helped lead efforts to clean up the Tujunga wash with a number of volunteers. And while the number of volunteers has certainly helped, it was Miner who drove the tractors, talked to the various agencies, and made sure that, for now, the wash is staying clean.
The problem of transients in the wash, and its related crime issues, has been covered extensively in these pages over the last year—from break-ins to encounters, and drug sales to fires.
“I took this all personally,” said Miner recently, sitting in his restaurant on a sunny winter afternoon in a tank top and shorts. “I grew up there.”
As Miner described it, “We found my daughter’s mail down there. She’s going to school full-time, and sometimes she comes home late at night, and I stay up late waiting for her, and then I’m here at the restaurant at 6 a.m. doing the floors.
“It got so bad,” he continued, “that here I’m building my dream house, and I don’t want to live here anymore.” “Plus,” said Miner, “there is the idea of building a new business and then watching the town slowly sink, economically.”
So Miner stepped in. He took it upon himself to work directly with and represent the interests of the main property owner in the area, whose land was directly affected and damaged by the transient population in the wash.
“I had an opportunity to go in there with a tractor,” said Miner, “And all these agencies there were telling me I couldn’t, for various reasons.” But Miner, nothing if not pragmatic, dealt directly with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and with game wardens in the area.
“We were only in there removing trash,” he said, but it wasn’t that simple. Though he had briefed the LAPD of his intentions long beforehand, they showed up on cleanup day. And not in a good way.
“They were not helping that first day,” Miner laughed. It wasn’t until after a few weekends of work that they left him alone and let him and his dedicated volunteers clean up the mess. They worked a total of nine full days, removing trash and debris from the wash, only completing the project in early February. Over that time, Miner estimates the value of their work at $18,000.
Meanwhile, as the project was being planned and even executed, Miner was working directly with another Riverwood Ranch resident, Brian Schneider, who also had initiated a cleanup plan through his “CD 7 Open Letter” Facebook page, which directly addressed the LA City Council, specifically Council District 7, about the issues involved with the wash.
“I told Brian, `You be the face of this, let me work in the background,’” said Miner, adding, “Brian was a huge help. On the second day of our cleanup, he brought in 50 people to help.”
And as they worked, one thing was becoming more and more clear to Miner.
“The homeless issue is a very sensitive issue, I understand that,” he said. “But we were finding out more and more that this was really a drug issue. I hate to use this overused term, but we had been enabling these people to ravage the town during the day, and [to] go back to the wash at night.”
But Miner is not too modest to say the work the community did had a positive effect on the residents in the wash.
“Nine people got into housing, some went back to their families, and some still struggle,” he said, “but I think we made a big difference.”
Meanwhile, through all of this, Miner was working at the Crow’s Nest, a dream of his.
“I remember when this place was the Sizzler,” he laughed, “I used to come here after school.”
“But,” he said, “I love sports bars, and I love food. My kitchen at home is the biggest room in the house. Eighty feet of linear counter space!” he laughed.
Miner had had his eye on the place for a number of years, and after a long successful career as an engineer working on US Department of Defense projects, including tactical weapons, and after another shorter career in the medical field, he was ready for something new.
“I could see that there were problems here,” he said of the property’s former incarnation, “and the moment that they moved out, I was on the phone to the realtor,” he remembered.
And there was much to do, he said. “We replaced a lot. The place, especially the kitchen, was falling apart.”
Miner, along with his chef, Luis Beja, upgraded the menu and brought in new suppliers. The best steaks from this supplier, and the best burgers from that one. Drop the sports bar decor, and the Crow’s Nest could be any full-service restaurant with a menu that includes a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as basic sports-bar appetizers.
“We make our own sauces, dressings, and so many of the things we serve here, in house,” he said. Add to that his love of all things Hawaiian, and it’s a place for nearly any occasion.