Following on Monday's report that the beloved Grubstake diner would likely indeed go the way of the developer's bulldozer under new ownership, the Chronicle circled back to the buyers, who remain in escrow on the property, to ask if they lied when they said nothing was going to change about the place. The (typical) answer: yes and no.
Socketsite showed us the sketch of a possible seven-story condo building on the site, containing 28 units, which has been submitted to the city as part of a preliminary project assessment, but Johnny Metheny who we thought was a partner in the sale but the Chron calls "part of the management team" of the new Grubstake characterizes the development scheme as "a backup plan."
New almost-owner of the building and site Nick Piggott says something wishy-washy to the effect of "We have no idea what the future will bring" and "The restaurant business is hard," which should give you an idea that the 78-year-old diner is doomed.
They of course know they can't be fully honest about their plans because of how much the diner is loved, and because pushback from the community could cost them millions if the plan gets killed. So, they're saying, "The development is so far down the road that I don’t even know... I can’t imagine there not being a Grubstake in there, to be honest."
We've been down this road before, of course, just last year with the Elbo Room. The bar owners were quick to quell reports of doom when a preliminary project assessment got filed for the site, showing that the property owners were planning a condo building there. Fast-forward nine months, and the property owners admitted yes, this was part of their long-term plan, to build themselves a place where they could retire and sell a few units. Fast-forward to last month and yep, the Elbo Room is hanging on, however they've only got a lease through the end of the year, and once the property owners have their approvals they'll be wanting to start construction probably next year.
It takes two years to get anything to move forward, construction-wise, in this town, but mark our words that the countdown most probably starts now for The Grubstake, barring any salvation from Historic Preservation.