TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Ten months after the Tahoe City McDonald’s closed, another restaurant in the Lighthouse Center has shut its doors.
After nine years in business, Chinese Cuisine’s final day was Nov. 2. The restaurant was unable to secure a lease amid gradually increasing rent rates, said Chiwei Liu, its former manager.
“We’ve been dealing with them (the landlord) back and forth,” Liu said on Nov. 9, as the restaurant was being cleared out. “We decided time is time. We were just tired of dealing with them.”
Located on the eastern edge of downtown Tahoe City, the Lighthouse Center is part of Schlosser Development’s portfolio. The Austin, Texas-based property development and management company acquired the site from Safeway in January 2011.
“It’s unfortunate that we have lost another tenant,” said Paul Gaddis, project manager at Schlosser Development.
While Gaddis confirmed the company didn’t provide Chinese Cuisine with a lease, he said the restaurant’s rent hadn’t increased.
When asked how much rent the center’s nine current tenants pay, Gaddis declined to comment due to its “sensitive” nature.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t think they’ve gone around and been asking people for more rent,” said Roxanne Williams, owner of Sassafras, another business in the Lighthouse Center. “… I can’t say I’m disappointed with the way they’ve been treating us, but it is a little unnerving not being able to get a lease.”
Almost all the businesses in the Lighthouse Center don’t have a lease, Gaddis said, due to the company trying to assess what maintenance work is needed.
With Chinese Cuisine’s departure, it’s a good time for Schlosser Development to look into some of that work, he said, since fewer tenants will be disrupted. Some of the work includes studying ADA compliance and completing TRPA best management practices.
The center can house at least 12 tenants based on current space configurations, and the loss of another business has some concerned.
“It’s hard on the center to have another empty space,” said Syd Earley, co-owner of Picnic, located next to Chinese Cuisine. “If you have a full vibrant center, with a lot of different things going on, it’s good for everyone in the center.”
Kyle Haberman, who works in Tahoe City, said he ate at Chinese Cuisine about once every five to six weeks.
“It’s a little disappointing because there’s less variety close by now,” he said. “They had a good lunch combo, reasonably priced, so it’s kind of disappointing to lose that.
“They were always friendly, too. I liked the owners and the employees a lot.”
Besides Liu and his parents, who owned the restaurant, Chinese Cuisine employed three others. The business will not relocate to another site, he said.
Closure of the business evokes “mixed feelings,” Liu said.
“Our customers were extremely nice, friendly and happy,” he said. “We treated them like a family, and in return, they treated us like one of their own. That’s why it’s sad to see a family member go.”
As far as what will go into that space next, it is unknown, Gaddis said.
Next door, the former location of the Tahoe City McDonald’s, still sits empty.