Monday, January 07, 2008

San Diegans in mourning....

Here in San Diego, on the corner of Balboa Ave and Genesee Ave, is Marie Callendar's Restaurant.

Marie's has been in operation in the Balboa Mesa Shopping Center for 39 years now. But on Feb 1st, it will be bulldozed out of existance by order of the LLC landowner. Stepstone, the realty management company has informed the franchise owners.

And who is the LLC landowner? Stepstone refuses to say, even to the franchise owner. Stepstone does say that the LLC landowner will now build a 3-story building in Marie's place.

That's not the way the Stepstone talked when Marie's lease expired in late 2006. No. The plan was that the lease would be extended until a new Marie's was built on an unused area of the shopping center and Marie's, they said, would be able to move into the new Marie's sometime around November, 2007.

Try as they might, Marie's franchise owners could not get Stepstone's bosses to produce the new lease. But of course they wouldn't, because they knew there would be no new Marie's. All they needed was for the present Marie's to continue to pay rent until they could throw them out and demolish the building.

Greed. Pure and simple.

So, this past weekend, a sign was posted on Marie's entrance door. It announced that Marie's would close permanently on January 20th, but would be open until then provided enough staff remained to make staying open possible. This caused several regular customers who have come for years and years to enter with tears filling their eyes.

And caused other patrons, also regulars for years and years, to damned near explode with rage upon hearing more details of the dirty dealing landlords and management company. It wasn't only that a beloved restaurant would disappear, it was also that a well-liked staff of approximately 70 people would lose their jobs, including the manager who has never worked anywhere else.

There is nothing akin to feeling rage and knowing one is helpless to do anything about righting the wrongs one sees happening before one's eyes, as another regular patron put it.

Hearing on the radio that Starbuck's is also in the process of closing many of it's coffee shops does not help. It's Marie's famous pies and most excellent food...the ambience of a well-loved place, a meeting place for a large neighborhood...a restaurant that cannot be replaced, even by a 3-story building that's needed like a hole in the head in that location... Well, events such as this are attributable to one thing only: CORPORATE GREED.

May they strangle on their money.


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