Last Call at Petar's Coming Soon

Lafayette institution is open for New Year's Eve, but closing after last call on Saturday night, Jan. 5.

Ned Kermaninejad was sad Monday about the impending closure of Lafayette institution Petar's but still he was gearing up for a big night for the restaurant and bar.

"We're going to have a party tonight," said Kermaninejad. "There's always a party at Petar's."

Petar's has been open in Lafayette for 54 years — first on Mount Diablo Boulevard and since 1980 at its current location on Lafayette Circle. Kermaninejad bought it 13 years ago from Petar Jakovina, now deceased.

The last night at the tavern is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 5, with the last night of kitchen service scheduled for Friday, Kermaninejad said.

The last two nights will include a performance by a Petar's institution, singer-pianist "Diamond" Dave Hosley, who covers everyone from Sinatra to Lady Gaga in several gigs a week at Petar's.

Hosley, on his website, says, "Then I'll be moving somewhere … not sure where exactly yet but I am not retiring by any means!"

Rent increase

The closing is forced by a big rent increase from the landlord, Main Street Property Services of Lafayette, Kermaninejad said. He has no definite plans to but, he said Monday, "I'm always looking for something. I'll probably reopen it in some form."

Kermaninejad, a Concord resident, started as a bus boy and waiter at Petar's, then moved on to owning restaurants in San Ramon and Blackhawk, before buying Petar's.

The restaurant and bar now employs 18 full- and part-time people, he said.

Chris F. January 01, 2013 at 04:47 PM
In todays economy you would think that it would be better to keep businesses up and running, An empty building yeilds no profit though I am sure it won't be empty long
Chris Nicholson January 01, 2013 at 05:10 PM
@Chris F: Your stream of consciousness provides a excellent illustration of the free market at work. Landlords can choose to demand as much rent as they want, but tenants are free to move out (or not move in). If no one agrees to a high "asking" rent for a vacant property, the landlord earns no rental revenue. Likewise, a low rent in an unattractive location can put you out of business faster than high rent in a good location. To those who reject this model: what is the alternative? Would you invest money in real estate under this alternative?
Chris F. January 01, 2013 at 05:38 PM
@Chris N. The rules of supply and demand are what drive our free market society, Their will always be someone that is willing to pay more. It is sad that a long time entity that is not shy on business has to close because they will not be able to make a profit worth staying open for and that says a lot.
Forrest January 01, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Why would Ned state that Main Street is the owner if they are not? Are they just the property manager?
My Kids Dad January 01, 2013 at 05:46 PM
petars needed a refresh. it was quiet because it wasn't busy. They could have done so much better.
Elizabeth Lampert January 01, 2013 at 05:58 PM
@Chris N, I agree 100%. Yes, it's sad to see the past slip away but to be honest, the community has not been supporting the restaurant for some time. It's unfair to throw snide remarks around at property owners or managers. I'd bet that given the opportunity, 95% would do the same. Change is constant, it's needed. Lafayette is growing, the vibrance, new shops and restaurants are exciting additions. Cherish times spent dancing/eating at Petar's but let's not spoil the memory going negative on innovation. I'm excited to see what goes in the space. Happy New Year!
Chris Nicholson January 01, 2013 at 06:00 PM
There ISN'T "always someone willing to pay more." When a business chooses to close or move due to rent increase, I agree that it can be sad, but what it really "says" is that the tenant's business is not the highest and best use of the property (or that the landlord is over-reaching--- the free market staggers toward efficiency, but is *really* fueled by real and perceived errors/inefficiencies). Perhaps they should have remodeled, expanded and/or raised prices. All economic systems yield some "sadness." I take comfort that, under capitalism, the sadness/friction from change is more than offset by the macro efficiency gains from such change. The same cannot be said for systems driven by sentiment or central planning authorities....
Chris F. January 01, 2013 at 06:07 PM
May Petar's Rest In Peace! I hope Diamond dave gets a local gig he has proven to be a great asset to nightlife in the area
tommy tankka January 01, 2013 at 06:58 PM
on a scale of 1-10, 10 being best, their food was...< 4.
Informed Citizen January 01, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Chris, perhaps over a great number of years, prices move only up, but that old adage has no place in the California commercial rental economy, especially in the East Bay. The vast majority of rents are down or stagnant at best. Office rents in particular have re-set to levels not seen since the 1990's. Our County lost at least 30% of its occupancy when the banking, mortgage, and finance industries collapsed in 2007. The 680 Corridor in particular still has a huge vacancy component, but you don't see it driving down the freeway. Half empty towers look full to the motorist. There are exceptions, of course, like So-Ma and Silicon Valley, where hi tech has kept rents and occupancy high, but move out into other Cities and suburbs, and investment real estate (commercial) is mostly hurting, and with the Dem super-majority now launching an all out property-tax assault (abrogating Prop 13 protections), the value equation for R.E. ownership has turned the corner. Restaurants have been also hard it. The ones that stay sharp with big capital behind them can survive. Most are struggling around CoCo County. The Contra Costa times and major media constant lie about California's recovery and distort and sugar coat the appearance of our "recovery". It is limited; spotty. That's why it's so shameful when our governments (including lame duck Lafayette City Council) vote raises and bonuses to their bloated staffs. Who even knows that Lafayette handed out lavish bonuses?
Dive Turn Work January 01, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Restaurants come and go. That's life.
Chris F. January 01, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Tommy, I didn't know anyone under 65 that ate there, I thought it was a great place to meet friends have a cocktail and see Diamond Dave. Where will all the retired people go to gather? People that went to Petar's aren't the same people that go to the Round Up.
jari January 02, 2013 at 12:05 AM
The ONLY reason for going was Diamond Dave, but last time I went there, with a friend visiting from NYC, I had prepared her for really cool Rossmoor crowd that used to frequent the place....dress up, and dance. While there had been a smattering of Saint Mary's students there before, just going because it was a hoot, Diamond Dave changed his playlist, it was almost all "kids," and the music he was playing was .....well, I guess he has to cater to his audience, but it really broke my heart to hear him playing nothing but smut songs. Look, I'm "only" 52, but my last visit there would have been my last visit there anyway because the only reason for going had sold-out, imho... I always had hoped to take my son there when he turned 21 (in March,) but I guess it's gonna be the Round-Up (save us all,) when he is home visiting from college. I wonder where the old Rossmoor crowd (well, the surviving Rossmoor crowd) goes for the kind of entertainment Diamond Dave used to offer.
JB January 02, 2013 at 02:09 AM
I cant believe Petar's and the property owner couldn't come to an agreement. Commercial property people: Explain how Hollywood Video, Lava Pit, and the countless others who have come and gone in the last 10 years have benefitted our community? How are you served when the 5-10 year leases at market rates default when the new business can't perform? Turnover is not good. Lamorindians: This is a reminder that we need to support out local businesses. To the Owners of the Property: What now, open another massage parlor?
Forrest January 02, 2013 at 02:54 AM
JB, Altruism is generally not in the property owner's play book .. Many of these older properties have been passed on to heirs who simply want to maximize their profits. Petar's probably won't be the only tenant in the building to be affected. Elizabeth is high on "vibrant" change.. and Chris...see altruism noted above .they must hail from Southern California.
Igen January 02, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Forrest, perhaps there is more to the story. Didn't Lamorinda Patch write an article within the last year quoting Ned as stating that he has a "long-term lease"? I'm surprised the author didn't comment on the apparent conflict with his establishment's prior reporting. Perhaps the author will comment further.
Igen January 02, 2013 at 04:39 AM
Perhaps Elizabeth is correct. Do you remember when Chow's didn't exist? Most people in the town think it is a nice addition, whether or not you patronize it is up to you. But some changes have been quite additive to our town. I'm guessing you and JB talk about supporting local stuff but I wonder how many times you have had a meal at Petar's recently. And on the chance that you have, perhaps you didn't need reservations or have a problem with too much noise from anyone dining adjacently.
Elizabeth Lampert January 02, 2013 at 04:44 AM
Forrest, insults aren't called for are they? But, just so you know, you are wrong. I'm from New York. I find cyber bullies usually have an agenda. I'm a business owner, a single mom, smart -what I have to say has value regardless of where I am from. I'm not speculating or spreading false information.
Igen January 02, 2013 at 05:12 AM
JB, I suppose Hollywood Video might have experienced a change in retail practices. Netflix and renting through the cable company have increased dramatically. So you blame the landlord? Perhaps blame silicon valley for technology or Henry Ford for mass producing cars and damaging the buggy business. Or perhaps you think it is the fault of the landlord of the buggy business factory. Wasn't Petar's around for 54 years or something like that? How long is enough to say it was a success and move on to the nex? Hollywood Video was successful for quite some time. Does it make you feel better to disparage the owner with a remark about a massage parlor? Perhaps you don't own any commercial property in Lamorinda, or perhaps not even any property anywhere. Why would you presume a negative outcome? Or maybe you are being nice to massage parlors and you would prefer an additional option?
Forrest January 02, 2013 at 06:31 AM
E.L. Hope you have a long term iron clad lease and the business to support it. Happy New Year!
Igen January 02, 2013 at 06:40 AM
"Hope ... long term iron clad lease"? Forrest, it feels like a bit of a lack of sincerity on your behalf. Sounds more and more like you may be just anti-landlord and don't really carry about E.L. as she called you out on insults and didn't retaliate with insulting you. Perhaps E.L. would like the ability to shop among landlords and doesn't desire a fixed situation. You know, free markets in both directions, etc.
Forrest January 02, 2013 at 06:43 AM
Igen..no insincerity meant. Happy New Year to You as well.
CLZ January 02, 2013 at 07:57 PM
I agreee. I had the same experience. I sais goodbye to Petars long ago.... The Round Up remains a great hang out and will go there when I feel like getting my party on....
gail Summers January 03, 2013 at 04:29 AM
I have never known empty retail spots like we have now here. Lafayette will soon look like other depressed towns in the state. It's tragic. So long Ma n Ma locales, only Big Business names call us to shop Lafayette now. I live in Lafayette but shop Moraga, easier parking and nicer people.
David Smith January 04, 2013 at 03:50 AM
Crappy food and entertainment that, I guess, was better than nothing. Hoping for improved use of the space.
Chris F. January 04, 2013 at 06:13 AM
I went by this evening to have a drink with my wife and the doors were locked.
DC / Lafayette January 04, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Going by tonight with a group, for one last drink...hope doors are open!
RayS January 05, 2013 at 01:22 AM
ChrisN: When you equate "freedom" to an open capitalist system you make a mistake. These are two different properties. Further, when you claim that "When a business chooses to close or move due to rent increase, I agree that it can be sad, but what it really "says" is that the tenant's business is not the highest and best use of the property " you misuse the words "highest" and "best". What you really should have written was "most profitable". The truth here is that a new tenant will simply be willing to either charge more for whatever they do in this space (most likely another restaurant) or charge about the same but make less money. Either outcome is simply a product of landlord greed. If you think wanton greed is the best "system" I encourage you to read Marx&Engels on why this will system will eventually collapse. An open capitalist system is a great thing if not abused - something we're not very good at avoiding in this country.
Chris Nicholson January 05, 2013 at 01:56 AM
@RayS: Are you really a Marxist, or do you merely "Play one online?" Your framework for greed and profit is flawed because it is reference frame dependent and fails to explain a dynamic system comprised of self-interested free agents. Your strawman world is constructed from the perspective of the landlord, who we are to presume is in a position to dictate price/terms. Not so. What of the tenant and customer? Is it "greedy" for the landlord to maximize his profits by renting his land/improvements to the highest bidder, even though he could feed his family with lower rent? Is it "greedy" for the business owner to seek the lowest rent that suits his needs, even though he could feed his family despite higher rent? Is it "greedy" for the consumer to maximize his "profit"/savings by spending his scarce money at establishments with the best combination of price/quality, even though he could pay higher prices and/or accept lower quality and still feed his family? If it is wrong/greedy for each free agent to exchange money/goods/services in the way that maximizes his own well being, then what is the "right" system and who defines/enforces it? Your 19th century framework failed to explain/predict the world for the last ~200 years. It is odd for you to embrace it now when the underlying assumptions are more counterfactual than ever.... You may want to add Hayak and Friedman to your reading list.
Lance Howland (Editor) January 05, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Hey, Bruce. Thanks for probing a bit. I was concerned about that point, so I put in a message to Main Street but haven't received a call or email back. -- Lance Howland, editor, Lamorinda Patch


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