Colton's Social House in Clovis is under fire from its landlord, Sierra Vista Mall, over its patio expansion. Photos via Colton's Facebook page
Written by Edward Smith
A patio expansion for one Clovis restaurant has resulted in a cease-and-desist letter from property managers who say the expansion was not approved.
Owners of Colton’s Social House in Clovis received a letter Thursday from the owners of Sierra Vista Mall telling them that their patio expansion was unauthorized, according to Brittany Collins Dean, general manager and co-owner of Colton’s.
In response to the guidelines banning indoor dining for restaurants, Colton’s ownership set out to construct a patio. They hadn’t been open since March’s lockdown order before debuting their patio on July 24.
Collins Dean said the letter is short and doesn’t address any specific modifications that were made. Workers took out grass and installed pavers in order to expand dining space. They erected tables, umbrellas, string lights and misters for guests. Collins Dean said they reached out to property managers with the mall multiple times via phone calls and emails.
Sierra Vista Mall was sold to Mason Asset Management and Namdar Group in 2019.
The letter from Sierra Vista Realty LLC said that the additions violated the lease agreement.
A statement from Namdar Realty Group said they support Colton’s Social House “mission for providing an exciting, open-air space for patrons to gather, connect and dine.”
“Unfortunately, however, the unauthorized construction and unmaintained nature of the outdoor dining set-up at Colton’s Social House has failed to adhere to the health and safety protocols, as well as the necessary permitting and documentation procedures that are in place to protect our property’s visitors.”
The statement went on to say that fire safety standards were neglected and could pose a challenge if emergency services were required for the restaurant.
“We need to ensure all health, fire, safety regulations and protocols are met and proper documentation is in place,” said Natalie Worstein, general manager of Sierra Vista Mall, in an email.
Collins Dean said that they did receive all necessary permits from the City of Clovis and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The letter gives Clovis Sweet River LLC, dba Colton’s Social House, 15 days to remedy the default. The letter states the landlord is authorized to remedy the additions and take possession of the property, if necessary.
“The reality is when we’ve tried to communicate, there hasn’t been any reciprocation on the other end,” said Collins Dean. “And with everything that’s going on, it’s really difficult to get written notice for things.”
Collins Dean added that when mall management came by, they showed them what they were doing.
“They were involved in the sense that their security is around all the time. They made several stop bys to kind of see what we were doing and we kind of informed them of the things that we were working on,” said Collins Dean. “It comes as a bit of a surprise that now here we are a couple months in and they’re trying to backtrack on their support.”
The statement from Namdar said safety has been a top concern.
“Our team has taken great care over the last few months to ensure that it continues to remain our primary concern,” the statement read. “During that time, we have openly and consistently expressed our willingness to work alongside Colton’s Social House.”
Collins Dean said that as a restaurant owner, patio dining has been essential to their survival. They hired 16 new staff members to accommodate the demand. Their sales are now “substantially more” than they were pre-Covid. Because of this, they’ve brought out additional tables, misters and lighting. Collins Dean said they have not expanded on their original footprint.
Worstein said they do not necessarily want the tenant to remove the patio. They just want to find a workable solution. “We wish nothing but continued success for him,” she said.
After receiving the letter Thursday, Collins Dean put out a notice on Facebook requesting public support and recommendations for an attorney. They’ve had offers for free consultations from lawyers.
“We want to have a cordial relationship with Sierra Vista,” said Collins Dean. “We’re not doing this in any way to cause a rift in our relationship. We really just want to open that line of communication where it hasn’t been open before.”