Big Daddy O's future unknown

By Shane Cohn 01/24/2013

It’s going to be a tough fight for Big Daddy O’s restaurant in Silver Strand to stay in business.

But the business owner, Art Pina, isn’t about to back down.

“I’m going for the whole shebang,” said Pina. “I’m going to try and take it all back — the restaurant I thought I was buying.”

Facing several county zoning and code violations that could shut down the popular eatery, Pina met with county Supervisor John Zaragoza and representatives from county code compliance and the planning department last week to discuss what had to be done to keep the business open.

As reported in the Jan. 10 VCReporter news story, “Silver Strand restaurateur fights to save popular business,” Big Daddy O’s is zoned for takeout only, but Pina has been operating the restaurant as a diner for 22 years, which he thought he was allowed to do. After operating for 10 years, code compliance issued Pina notices of noncompliance for non-permitted conversion of a takeout restaurant to dine-in, and advised that he also needed to convert his outdoor dining area to parking spots.

The issue was overlooked, however, and as of late last year, heavy fines for code violations were imposed on Pina, which now threaten the business.

Zaragoza and Pina both said the recent meeting was positive and that a road map is being laid out for Pina to ensure his staying in business.

“We want to make it so he can comply,” said Zaragoza. “I think we have some good, reasonable solutions. I think he is good for business and has been there for two decades and, hopefully, two more decades.”

The restaurant’s property owner, Joseph Muratore, who listened to the meeting via conference call from New York, also said in an e-mail that the meeting was helpful but doesn’t change the fact that Pina still has to dedicate an exorbitant amount of time and money to get up to code.

“Frankly, as the landlord, I’m tired of this situation — it’s not like we’re collecting a ton of rent (raised this past year after keeping it the same for more than 21 years),” explained Muratore. “And the looming threat of liens and fines has made me think that I’d be better off investing the proceeds from the sale of the property in a more business-friendly community. So if Art, if he doesn’t comply this time, I’m going to evict him before the county shuts him down.”

Pina is confident that his business will continue to be a staple in the Silver Strand community, especially if all the parties present during the meeting at Zaragoza’s office begin to work together.

“Before, they said it might be a very expensive process and no guarantee,” said Pina. “This time it seemed like it was not an impossible process, and they said they will work with me and walk me through the steps.”


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