RICHMOND (CBS SF) — A popular waterfront restaurant is caught in the middle of a battle between a developer and the City of Richmond.
After losing his political bid to build a so-called “Richmond Riviera” on the water, Florida-based landlord and developer Richard Poe has taken aim at Salute et Vita Ristorante. His firm, The Penterra Company served owner Menbere Aklilu a 30-day eviction notice.
The president of the company said the eviction is due to a raw sewage leak under the restaurant but Aklilu says a city health inspector came out Friday and told her everything was fine. She says she doesn’t know why she is being targeted.
Richmond Mayor Tom Butts believes Poe is acting out of spite.
Last June, Richmond voters rejected a ballot measure proposed by Poe that would have fast-tracked his plan to build 59 single-family luxury homes along the city’s shores. The city had already earmarked the land for a more dense development with many businesses and several hundred residential homes. Mayor Butt and other city lawmakers fought hard to defeat Poe’s measure.
While Poe has not gone public with his motives in this latest salvo, Mayor Butts and about 100 of Salute’s supporters gathered in front of the restaurant Tuesday to show their disdain for his actions. Some even carried signs saying ‘Poe Out of Richmond.’
They all know Aklilu’s story. An immigrant, she fled a tough life in Ethiopia and has been with Salute for 14 years, working her way up from server, to general manager, and finally owner. She told them she will not go down without a fight.
“I love Richmond, this is my first job in America. I have no other resume.”
Last year Aklilu won a KPIX 5 Jefferson Award for her philanthropic work in the community along with numerous other civic awards. Every year she hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for homeless people and donates money and time to many Bay Area schools and non-profit organizations.