Despite the passage of time, the drama on Fisherman’s Wharf remains a constant. | News

A two-story space on Fisherman’s Wharf which most recently housed Scales, a restaurant owned by Chris and JR Shake which closed July 31 last year, remains vacant. And the massive building is completely gutted.

It’s not just the kitchen equipment and furniture that has been removed, it’s almost everything except the building itself: the bar, the floor, the light fixtures and even several toilets – everything is gone. It’s a surreal site considering it was a well-appointed restaurant just six months ago, and is the result of Monterey’s old practice of approving leases that allowed tenants to remove all building upgrades above water, including the building itself.

Within 90 days of the expiration of the lease, the city realized that even the HVAC infrastructure had been removed, leaving apparent holes in the roof. Subsequently, in late October, the city entered into a legal settlement with the Shakes that required the restorers to plug holes in the roof.

This came after Tony Lombardo, the Shakes’ attorney, sent a letter to the city on July 16 stating that the Shakes were backing out of negotiations to continue leasing the location due to “uncertainties over the future labor availability and rising operating costs. It took the city by surprise.

Monterey property manager Janna Aldrete says the city will hopefully issue a request for proposals to lease the space by Feb. 18. She’s curious what kind of response that will bring – maybe a restaurant isn’t the best use for the massive space, and instead it might look more like the Ferry Building in San Francisco, which houses local artisans and food stalls.

There’s another legal drama on the dock: On November 30 of last year, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wills ruled in favor of the city in its lawsuit with Discovery Charters Inc., a whale-watching company that sued the city in 2019 for not allowing a 91-foot boat it bought in 2018 to moor in the space the company leased at the dock. On January 21, Wills ordered Discovery to pay Monterey more than $250,000 in attorney fees for the case.

In the ruling, Wills noted that the lease with the city — which dates back to 1992 — “is ambiguous about the linear dimensions” of the space, but that past leasing practices on the dock demonstrated an understanding that the space was only 75 feet. long. He also added that the evidence showed that the city had never approved the docking of a boat over 75 feet at the concession. Discovery appealed Wills’ decision on February 2.

Discovery co-owner John Mayer is frustrated with Will’s decision, not least because when his company struck a deal to buy the boat for $1.2 million, he was sure it was on lease. (The boat has since been sold to someone else.)

“Obviously I’m very upset,” Mayer says, adding that he still has no idea exactly how much water space he currently has under his lease. “Words cannot describe how confused I am by [the judge’s] ignorance of the facts of the case.

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