Popular Richmond Restaurant's Eviction Notice Rescinded

A landlord who threatened to evict a popular restaurant earlier this month has rescinded the notice to vacate but is demanding the restaurant owner make repairs to the building, representatives for the landlord said Wednesday.

Officials with the owner, the Penterra Co., said in a statement Wednesday that Menbere Aklilu, owner of the Salute e Vita Ristorante, had already taken corrective steps so the company was giving her "one more chance."

While relieved, the restaurant owner says her future is still uncertain.

"I don't understand; what does it mean, one more chance? Aklilu said. "Like a little girl? I don't understand one more chance. Does it mean I'm still in danger? What's that?"

The notice to vacate came after an Aug. 1 letter from the company reporting it had hired a pest control specialist to investigate a smell coming from under the building and found "two major broken pipes located under the restaurant."

The company sent a request to Aklilu to repair the pipes.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said demanding the restaurant fix pipes under the building was unusual and would normally be the landlord's responsibility, except that the lease had "unusually aggressive requirements for building and grounds maintenance by the lessee."

After hearing about the threatened eviction, Butt called a rally outside of the restaurant, accusing the building owners of pursuing the eviction out of spite for the city.

The possible eviction of the popular restaurant from its prime location on the Richmond waterfront drew outrage. Butt said he was helping to set up a fund to help pay for the repair costs.

This week, Penterra had the areas under the restaurant tested and found the presence of E. Coli in a crawlspace. The company released the reports publicly Wednesday, but said it would not pursue the eviction if the repairs were completed.

The restaurant passed an inspection by the Contra Costa County Health Department earlier this month, just after the eviction notice, according to Butt.

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