Jodie’s Restaurant in Albany has announced it will likely have to close in eight days, citing ongoing problems with its landlord as well as insurmountable infrastructure upgrades that would need to be done by June 16.
Jodie’s posted a notice on Facebook about the closure shortly after noon Friday, June 6: “The obstacles and requirements required by law from Alameda County Health Department, the Fire District and the City of Albany to upgrade the infrastructure at 902 Masonic Avenue have proven to be too enormous for our resources to handle.”
Jodie’s is a family business that dates back to 1989. The style of the unique restaurant isn’t for everyone, but the hordes who love Jodie’s love it with a vengeance.
“This tiny place is a hidden gem,” wrote longtime customer Colin Epstein on the Jodie’s Facebook page. “Great food and great folks. My weekend isn’t right without breakfast at Jodie’s.”
Another fan said she was delighted to find the restaurant after moving to the Bay Area from the East Coast.
“The one thing I’ve been searching for is a restaurant like the one I worked in back at home, where you walk in the door and [you’re] instantly friends with everyone and let me say Jodie’s finally fulfilled my seemingly endless search for that hometown feeling in a restaurant,” wrote Kayla Bennett.
Jodie’s menu includes more than 100 selections, many of which are named after regular customers or special events, such as “Obama Special” and “Michelle’s Delight. There’s the “Skiparoo,” a dish with two eggs and italian sausage (or vegetarian), reduced fat cheese and a grilled English muffin. Seemingly infinite combinations of egg dishes, meat dishes and vegetarian options for breakfast and lunch are available. Many include special sauces and seasonings created by Jodie and his family members, including his other daughter, Michelle Royston-Kamel.
Sherrylyn Larkins, daughter of restaurant namesake Jodie Royston, said Friday that her family has been trying to come to an agreement with the property’s landlord since 2011 about a lease and also to figure out a plan for much-needed repairs on site.
The improvements aren’t about food safety; Jodie’s received high marks from Alameda County during its health permit inspection. But the infrastructure around the business is an aging building that needs updates in everything from floor and ceiling finishes to the ventilation system. And then there’s the sink: Though Jodie’s has a mop sink, a dishwashing sink in the kitchen and a sink in the bathroom, county rules require an additional sink that’s dedicated solely to hand washing.
Larkins said, to date, Jodie’s has not been able to secure a lease, and does not feel comfortable sinking thousands of dollars of repairs into the property without the security of a contract. Larkins said the landlord has, over the years, promised to make many repairs but has not followed through.
According to the Facebook notice: “No negotiation has been met, so we are left with no other option… but to stop operating until we secure a better or new location.”
The restaurant passed its health inspections, according to Friday’s notice, but there are other required upgrades needed to allow the business to continue operating and bring the space up to code.
Larkins said Friday that one of the big expenses would be improvements to the range hood, which would likely cost $15,000 or more, and require adding new air ducts into the ceiling. Once they open up the ceiling, she said, it’s possible even more work would be needed.
“We just can’t fight anymore,” she said. “It’s been one headache after another.”
Larkins said, after chasing him since their last meeting in April, the landlord did agree to a meeting June 14. But she said the county health department set a June 16 deadline to make the infrastructure changes. And she said, at this point, even if Jodie’s could get a lease, there is still a long history of broken promises about work the landlord said he would do.
Jodie’s had been alerted in 2011 by the health department that certain changes needed to be made. As a result, according to Jodie’s, the landlord promised to make numerous improvements including a hand wash sink, better shelving, floors and windows, and bathroom upgrades.
Landlord Curtis Evans told Berkeleyside in November that he fully intended to make those improvements, and was in the process of trying to coordinate with Jodie’s to get the work done.
Larkins said none of that work has been done to this point.
She said Jodie’s is still looking for a new location, and is open to finding a food truck if that’s the only option. The business plans to keep fans informed via Facebook and on its other social media accounts.
The restaurant’s last day in business is set for Saturday, June 14.
Learn more about Jodie’s on its website. Donations can be made at http://www.jodiesfuture.com, which will be updated shortly to reflect the current situation. The restaurant can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Get the flavor of Jodie’s in the following video.
Jodie’s, at 902 Masonic Ave. in Albany, is open Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Building code issues put Jodie’s Restaurant in peril (11.07.13)