ALBANY -- Jodie's Restaurant, a fixture in Albany for 24 years, faces potential closure due to problems with its building, problems that the owners say the landlord has promised to address for years.
Inspectors from the Alameda County Public Health Department gave the business until Nov. 10 to file plans to address several infrastructure issues, including the ventilation system and installing a sink specifically for hand washing. The restaurant has passed its food safety inspection.
The property at 902 Masonic Ave. is owned by Curtis Evans, also the proprietor of Mr. C's Coiffures, located next door. Evans said he intends to get the work done.
Sherrilyn Larkins, daughter of owner Jodie Royston, said the family has had written agreements with the landlord that the work will be completed.
"We got it in writing, we thought it was going to happen," she said. "A letter listed all the things he would get done."
Evans acknowledged that there is a written agreement, and insisted that the work will be finished.
"I have no intentions of letting that project go undone when I have put in thousands into this building," he said. Evans added that he bought out his partner in the building three years ago and that his finances are just now recovering.
Larkins said county officials told her that because her father's name is on the business license, he is responsible to get the work done.
"Curtis said, 'Just tell them to talk to me,'" Larkins said. "They don't want to talk to him. That's what they told me."
According to Larkins, the issues go back to at least 2007. She said the family arranged to work with a contractor recommended by the landlord and paid up front for a new sink, but that the work was never done and the sink was never delivered.
"They wrote the check directly to the person," she said. "He was supposed to pick it up. Finally, that company went out of business. He (Evans) kept telling them, 'You know, it's on order, it's coming, it's coming.' It was just one excuse after another. He would promise and promise and promise and just not do it."
Evans said the sink was purchased at Restaurant Depot Supply and was on hold when the company went out of business.
"When bankruptcy is filed, everything is stopped," he said. "Even though I paid for the sink, I couldn't get it."
Evans also said the restaurant has a very low rent and that the lease was signed by Royston's now-deceased wife.
The tiny restaurant -- it has just six stools for customers -- needs a new ventilation hood over the stove. Other issues include deteriorating wood around the windows and a door that will have to be redone.
Larkins said she was told by a friend in a the building department in Berkeley that it might cost $50,000 to do all needed work.
In addition, the property may need to be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which may be difficult because of the tiny space.
"If we have to put an ADA restroom, you don't have room left for the restaurant," Larkins said.
She said the family has considered moving to a new location, but hasn't had any luck finding anything.
The size of the space is also an obstacle to hiring a contractor, according to Larkins.
Jodie's is attempting to raise money to pay for the work. Straight donations can be made at www.jodiesfuture.com using PayPal. Jodie's is also selling T-shirts at www.booster.com/jodiesfuture. Shirts are $20 and a portion of each sale goes back to the restaurant. Donations are not tax-deductible.