There’s a rumble going on over control of the restaurant space at Salty’s on the Columbia (3839 NE Marine Drive).
The longtime seafood restaurant closed abruptly on September 24, with an answering machine message citing an “unforeseen maintenance issue.” This was apparently blazingly literal. Unbeknownst to the Salty's staff, the landlords of the property had hired a construction crew to remodel the restaurant.
"Essentially what happened," says Mike Murphy, an attorney for Salty's, "was that the landlord rolled in in the middle of the night, and commenced kitchen floorwork that was actually scheduled for January and essentially shut the restaurant down without court action or notice."
Peter van Schoonhoven, one of the owners of the space, tells WW that he had indeed barred Salty's from the space, saying that the restaurant had been in default on its rent and owed for required building maintenance. Murphy acknowledges that the restaurant owed back rent and costs for repairs, but says that the restaurant was up to date on a payment agreement that the restaurant had reached with the landlord.
According to Multnomah County, no legal eviction proceedings had been pursued against the restaurant; Salty's has received a temporary restraining order allowing them access to the space, and filed for civil injunctive relief against being barred from the space.
A hearing scheduled for Thursday, October 3 will decide whether Salty's will be allowed to control the property pending a court date in February of next year.
In another twist, van Schoonhoven and Linda Addy—general manager for Salty's until her resignation last week—have already applied for a liquor license (also on September 24) to open a fishhouse called The Catch in the Salty's space. "We're well past the talking phase," van Schoonhoven says about the planned restaurant.
Meanwhile, Salty's managing partner Nick Nordby says they plan to re-open Salty's in mid-October, once the floorwork is done. The restaurant has been taking reservations for the holiday season. "We believe the landlord has acted improperly," Murphy says. "We believe we’re in compliance. We expect to remain in that location.
"If the judge decides in our favor on Thursday," says van Schoonhoven, "then they're gone."