ALAMEDA -- Pearl's Deluxe Burgers at Alameda South Shore Center closed its doors Sunday, less than two weeks after the owner told the city's Planning Board that weekly food trucks events at the shopping center were undermining his business.
"The bottom line is that the food trucks were killing me," Young Han Yi said.
The manager and senior cooks are among the five of the restaurant's 14 employees who will continue working at the company's two locations in San Francisco, Yi said Monday. The others were laid off.
"Our employees understood why we needed to do it," he said. "They know that times are tough right now. Our customers also understood. We've gotten phone calls and cards from people telling us they were sorry we were leaving."
Pearl's Deluxe Burgers opened in Alameda in August 2010 and mostly broke even until the food truck gatherings began each Saturday at the shopping center in June last year, Yi said.
"I expected not to make money for the first two years," he said. "But then the food trucks started and I was losing between $5,000 and $8,000 each month. I cannot continue a situation where I have six employees standing around on a Saturday, waiting for customers to arrive."
Yi was the only restaurant owner to address the Planning Board on Jan. 15, when it reviewed and made minor changes to the city's food truck guidelines, including making it easier for the trucks to operate at more locations at the former Alameda Naval Air Station.
The board also asked city officials to gather more information on what kind of impact the trucks have on retailers and brick-and-mortar restaurants after listening to Yi.
The City Council adopted the guidelines in December 2011 so that the municipal code would comply with state law, which allows the trucks to set up on any public street as long as a vendor meets safety requirements. The aim of having local guidelines was to provide the city with extra control.
The food truck gatherings draw about 1,400 people to Alameda South Shore Center each Saturday.
Eric Fonstein, a development manager with the city, said the city has received no complaints about the trucks and that an internal analysis by the shopping center's management found its retailers experience "a significant increase in overall sales" during the gatherings.
While food trucks were the main reason behind his Alameda restaurant closing, Yi said his decision also hinged on making a profit at his two restaurants in San Francisco, where he noted that all businesses with 20 or more employees must offer health insurance or help pay for the city's health care access program.
Yi's restaurants are located on Post and Market streets. A family member of Yi's owns the Pearl's Deluxe Burger in Mill Valley.
Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-749-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.