HERCULES -- Efforts by the city to sign a tenant to replace the defunct Sala Restaurant at the Civic Arts building are on hold, after tax liens against a former owner surfaced.
The restaurant and its principals, Prathumrat "Kay" Sala and Glen Cole, vacated the 2,100-square-foot, city-owned property on Railroad Avenue near Santa Fe Avenue in December, owing an estimated $112,000 in unpaid rent, utility bills and loan payments, according to city finance director Nickie Mastay. Cole and Sala, who relocated to Southern California, did not respond to several emails and phone calls from this newspaper in the ensuing months.
The recently discovered tax liens include federal Internal Revenue Service liens totaling about $59,000 against Kay Sala and Contra Costa County liens totaling about $10,500 against Sala and the defunct restaurant. At least some of the liens appear to be on furniture, fixtures and equipment, according to City Manager Steve Duran.
"We are proceeding cautiously, consulting with legal counsel on what might be considered 'personal property' by the county and what property the IRS might consider covered under its liens," Duran said in an email last week.¿ "I am also in contact with the former tenant to see if they can pay off the debts that resulted in the liens."
Broker Deborah Perry of Colliers International said two months ago that she had two letters of interest from among several interested parties. She advertised the premises at $1.50 a square foot per month; Sala's monthly rent had been $1.65 a square foot.
Said Duran, "We want to eliminate or significantly reduce ambiguity before entering into a lease with a tenant."