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Palo Alto's Mike's Diner Bar to remain open thanks to 11th-hour deal, community support

A Palo Alto restaurant that thought it would have to close Monday has been given a new lease on life.

Mike’s Diner Bar has served Italian-American cuisine in the city’s midtown for three decades, but a day-late rent payment put their future in jeopardy.

This all started in July when owner Mike Wallau says he paid rent one day late, which spiraled into an eviction notice he got from the county. The notice said the restaurant needed to be vacated by 7:00 a.m. on Monday, September 11.

“It was kind of going back and forth and at one point I was ready to just say ‘forget it,’” Wallau said of the negotiations.

Last month, Wallau told NBC Bay Area that he was three days late on rent last year. So, he signed an agreement with the landlord, saying he wouldn’t be late again.

Wallau said he was late delivering his July rent check because he was at the hospital with his daughter.

The community rallied around Wallau, with more than 1,400 people signing a petition to keep the restaurant. Local leaders, including Palo Alto Mayor Lydia Kou, have also put their support behind Mike’s.

Still, Mike said as of earlier this week, a resolution was not in sight and he was preparing to pack up the restaurant.

“But at the 11th hour, we were able to strike a deal and something that we can both live with,” Wallau said. “So we’re very excited to get the word out that we’re staying.” 

The property is owned by Scher Holdings, LLC and the Finebaum Surviving Spouse’s Trust. The owners have been working with the agent Ventana Property Services to communicate with Wallau.

Sunday night, Edward Scher of Scher Holdings, LLC confirmed to NBC Bay Area that an agreement with Mike’s Diner Bar has been reached.

“If we were to lose Mike’s, it would have been devastating, to the customers, the other merchants of midtown,” said Len Filppu, a longtime friend of Wallau and head of the Fairmeadow Neighborhood Association.

Wallau’s friends and customers say they are breathing a sigh of relief after this news was announced on Sunday.

“This is clearly the gem, the jewel of the midtown area here in Palo Alto, it is a neighborhood-serving, walkable, bikeable, sit-down meal restaurant,” Filppu noted.

“I am simply delighted, really, really relieved and delighted,” said Mayor Lydia Kou of the news that Mike’s will be able to stay.

“We’re also grateful for the property owners for the opportunity for Mike’s Diner to remain,” she added.

“Mike’s Diner Bar is a community asset, I would hope moving forward the owners would understand that and acknowledge that would also be community-minded as well,” Kou said.

Wallau said he is grateful for the community support.

He also said he has now automated his rent payments so he won’t miss another one.  

“We’re very excited and optimistic,” he said.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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