Fresh Ketch closes for winter; South Lake Tahoe restaurant on market to lease |

Fresh Ketch closes for winter; South Lake Tahoe restaurant on market to lease

The Fresh Ketch closed for the winter on Jan. 1.
Autumn Whitney / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The Fresh Ketch finds itself in an interesting situation.

The long-time bar and restaurant closed on Jan. 1 for the winter, a departure from previous years when it stayed open year round. The current owners plan on renovating the space and taking inventory.

Fresh Ketch is targeting a mid-April reopening, that is unless the space is leased, said Diana Drinkard, bookkeeper for LT Food and Spirits, the business name on file with the California Secretary of State, and the Tahoe Keys Marina.

The property at 2435 Venice Drive East is listed for an undisclosed price on LoopNet, an online marketplace for commercial real estate. Along with picturesque views, the listing boasts: “bar, restaurant, banquet rooms, party rooms, outdoor seating, two equipped kitchens, upstairs and downstairs, outdoor patio for dining.”

If nobody steps forward to lease the space, Drinkard said she expects the current owners to maintain the concept behind the Fresh Ketch.

“We might revise the menu some. We really haven’t thought that far yet, but I know it has been mentioned …”

The decision to temporarily close came without much warning to the 11 employees at the restaurant. Drinkard said she learned about the decision two days after Christmas. For five of those employees the job at the Fresh Ketch was their only one.

The winter had been a slow period for the restaurant, which was only open Thursday through Sunday. It remains available for banquets and private events.

“It’s been really slow anyways so it’s a good time to do all that,” Drinkard said, referencing the renovations and other housekeeping tasks planned during the temporary closure. She said she was unaware what all the renovations entail.

“I would say most of it is going to be cosmetic, but like I said, I don’t know all the details of what the renovation is going to consist of.”

The renovations, according to Drinkard, could address issues raised in a lawsuit claiming the restaurant violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because the bathroom is not accessible to people with disabilities.

The suit was filed in October by Richard Rehhaut, who listed Placer County as his county of residence. The initial suit also claims that Rehhaut’s rights were violated, for which he is seeking a minimum statutory payout of $4,000. The complaint also requests reasonable payment for attorney fees and compliance with the ADA.

Justin Clouser, attorney for Tahoe Keys Marina and Fresh Ketch, said they have not decided on whether or not to try and settle or go to trial.

“We are following the court process at this point and we will be talking with them … it’s always beneficial to try and find a way to resolve a dispute, but if it can’t be resolved then it will be up to the court,” Clouser said.

Drinkard pointed out that Rehhaut, who is paraplegic, has filed other lawsuits involving ADA violations. According to court records, Rehhaut has filed at least three ADA-related lawsuits since 2008.

The Center for Disability Access, a division of the law firm representing Rehhaut, did not respond to multiple messages left by the Tribune.

In discussing the seasonal closure, Drinkard said she hoped to clarify speculation online that the restaurant was closed for good.

“It’s a temporary thing just so we can take advantage of the slow time and renovate, do inventory and start fresh mid-April, unless somebody leases it out,” she said.

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