PITTSBURG -- Pittsburg is looking for a new restaurant tenant on city-owned property, now that Momo, a Japanese eatery in the city's Old Town, closed late last year.
Momo, which opened its doors about a year ago, was located in the Vidrio housing and retail complex, which the city acquired and completed construction on after the developer fell into foreclosure in 2008.
"We're going to try and find a good replacement," that will be open for business in early 2014, City Manager Joe Sbranti said Thursday. To that end, the city has sent out a request for proposals to find a new tenant for the now vacant space at 610 Railroad Ave.
Philip Yang, who opened Momo about a year ago, will continue paying a monthly lease amount to the city until the new tenant is found.
"They still have to pay what the lease requires," Sbranti said. "It's nice from that standpoint we don't have to rush into anything. We are going to get the right new tenant for that facility."
Momo was one of the six Old Town restaurants featured in last summer's Culinary Crawl events that took place on alternating weeks in conjunction with the classic car show on Thursday nights.
Yang, who also operates Sasa in Walnut Creek and the Blue Gingko in Lafayette, was out of the country and could not be reached for comment on what led to the closing.
"It came as a surprise to everyone .... right before the holidays, it just went away," said Adrian Badger, president of the Old Town Pittsburg Business Association District and owner of Steeltown Coffee & Tea. "It was distressing because we are trying to keep momentum going in the district and have some nice things downtown. It was a unique restaurant and a nice addition to the neighborhood."
Badger said the district "would love to see another full-service restaurant" replace the empty Momo spot. "Like with any shopping district, the restaurants are kind of an anchor to entice other retailers to come in here," he said. All new businesses are challenging, but restaurants are particularly challenging. One out of four restaurants failed in the first year of operations, according to a research study published in the Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly in 2005.
"A restaurant closes, and someone else opens up. It's not uncommon," Sbranti said.
Just across the street on another city-owned parcel, Lumpy's Diner moved in after Restaurant 615, an eatery that also served the culinary arts program for Contra Costa College, closed it doors about three years ago.
"Within a few months, we identified Lumpy's as a replacement and Lumpy's is doing well," Sbranti said.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.