News

Bierhaus owner sues his landlords

Suit seeks to avert planned closure of downtown pub next month

The feud over the future of the downtown pub Bierhaus is now headed for the courtroom. The owner of the Castro Street beer garden filed a lawsuit against his landlords this week, alleging they are violating his lease by planning to oust his business next month.

In the suit, attorneys representing Bierhaus owner Mike Finley allege the owners of the 383 Castro St. location did not act in good faith because they refused to negotiate a new lease with him.

Khoe Tran and his family, who own the building, are planning to redevelop the site into a four-story office building with a new restaurant space on the ground floor. Those office plans were submitted to the city earlier this year, but it is expected to take years for the proposal to wind through the city's overburdened review process.

Given how long it will take, Finley believes Bierhaus should be allowed to remain open for a couple more years before the office development goes forward. His attorneys point to a clause in his lease guaranteeing that Bierhaus is supposed to get first right of refusal on signing a new lease "in the event (the landlord) builds a new building." They believe this obligates the Tran family to negotiate a new short-term lease with Bierhaus at fair market pricing.

The lawsuit references a series of emails sent over the summer between Finley and his landlords, in which he pointed out his first right of refusal privileges in the lease. The Tran family reportedly declined his request to negotiate an extension.

The quarrel is more complicated than a debate over the lease language. Finley is also alleging the Trans are planning to essentially steal his business concept by reopening a similar beer garden at the same site. The suit alleges the Tran family are attempting to seize Finley's liquor license for a new restaurant that would occupy the space after Bierhaus vacates.

The Tran family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Bierhaus lawsuit seeks $250,000 in damages including an alleged loss of business caused by the landlords' actions. Finley is also asking for a court order that would prohibit the Trans from leasing the space to any business other than Bierhaus.

The case has not been scheduled yet for a court hearing. Bierhaus is currently expected to close down by Sept. 30.

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Comments

21 people like this
Posted by mary hodder
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Go Mike Go!!!!!

If there is a clause that says Bierhaus gets first right of refusal to add years to the lease if there is a development planned.. the Trans cannot refuse to renegotiate the lease.

Injunction junction, stop that function
Don't throw Mike out
Keep that comin' with that stout !!!


35 people like this
Posted by Beer fan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2018 at 4:40 pm

I was supportive of Mike and Bier Haus then I heard him say he was never paying his rent on time and not until the 15th because the lease accidentally left off a clause for a late penalty and now I think he’s probably missing a sense of morals ... it’s maybe legal but what a dumb thing to do if you want a working business relationship. It’s too bad because I really like the place but that’s poor people skills....


5 people like this
Posted by Wondering about rumors
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2018 at 6:10 pm

@Beer Fan: I don't think Mike said he paid late. I think the Tran's said he did. Mike said he had former partners who caused a problem, and since they changed up the partnership, they have paid on time.


31 people like this
Posted by BEERFAN
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2018 at 6:53 pm

Mike Finley seems to get a dose of his own medicine: driving a hard bargain to make money for himself (not Mountain View!).

His Bierhaus concept works well because he charges high prices for beer with little in terms of service and the place really lives from the interactivity of the outdoors open space located smack in the middle of an attractive downtown corner with a lot of foot traffic. Nothing here that Mike "invented" as he likes to claim (IP), it is simply a great location coupled with a trendy concept.

Bierhaus is a business and as such is exposed to terms in agreements and contracts. Even more important than the words in contracts can be the personal understanding of partners such as landlord and renter. It seems that Mike may have been better off investing some time and effort into building/maintaining a good relationship with the landlord. In earlier stories about this Bierhaus saga it was mentioned how this relationship soured over time. Always trying to drive a hard bargain is not always the best long-term strategy.


8 people like this
Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 17, 2018 at 7:25 pm

Go Mike!!!


41 people like this
Posted by dmacinfo
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 17, 2018 at 7:58 pm

Bierhaus managing partner Mike Finley is more than disingenuous. His public statements point out what a bad renter he is, yet he seeks public sympathy. His "concept" is unoriginal, since places like The Oasis, Rossotti's (Alpine Inn) and Dutch Goose have had the same ordering/serving process for years. So does Crepevine, if you change menu items.

As for the truly interesting beers, you can credit one of his many partners for bringing these in. As far as I can see Mike did nothing but sit on his stool and drink red wine, parading his Bearnise Mountain Dog out for occasional affection. Mostly, there is no excuse for the way he has treated his landlords, often refusing them entrance to the restaurant.

Don't get sucked in by Finley's mea culpas. He doesn't deserve them. Ask his employees and his partners.


36 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 17, 2018 at 8:09 pm

Mr. Finley will lose this lawsuit because it is without merit and he is in the wrong. His lease is expiring and he has soured his relationship with the landlord by being a poor tenant and attacking his landlord in the press. His "right of first refusal" if a new building is built only applies if his lease is in effect and the landlord no longer wants him there because he is a pain.

I agree with those who say Go Mike - please leave!


4 people like this
Posted by Barlin Mando
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 18, 2018 at 12:33 pm

I like both of them. I hope they both win. #MAGA


5 people like this
Posted by One Opinion
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2018 at 12:34 am

If the lease required the good faith renewal, then that applies regardless of any complaints, so long as the landlord hasn't done an eviction.


6 people like this
Posted by Case Number?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2018 at 1:37 pm

I don't see the case at the Superior Court's "smart search" website inputting the names provided in the story. Maybe the landlord and tenant are business entities with other names. Anyone have the case number?


19 people like this
Posted by Beer = BFD
a resident of Bailey Park
on Aug 20, 2018 at 3:16 pm

There are enough places to drink beer in Mountain View.

Bring back Wienerschnitzel.


14 people like this
Posted by +1
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Yep, I also want the house of the .99 chili cheese dogs back.


4 people like this
Posted by Scooter
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 21, 2018 at 12:46 pm

@ Beer = BFD. I'd rather bring back Generic Hamburger Stand, with their $0.39 cent hamburgers. =^)


2 people like this
Posted by Ax the boozers
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2018 at 12:51 pm

If we could keep the patio and get rid of the drinkers, that's the winning combo. Drinkers ruin everything.


4 people like this
Posted by David Speakman
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 24, 2018 at 2:46 pm

Let it go and move on. The land owner is waiting for the lease to expire and opting not to renew. That is the right of the landowner.

They also are opting not to lease the property to anyone, instead planning to redevelop the property. A good-faith re-lease ore renewal lease clause (if it exists in their contract) is only valid of the landowner chooses to lease the same property again. That is not happening.

It is really odd here that a soon-to-be former renter believes that he can dictate future property use by a landowner.

It is likely that a judge will through this suit out as meritless for lack of stating an actual cause of action under the law.


4 people like this
Posted by David Speakman
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm

(Correcting typos from previous post caused by typing on my phone (dang autocorrect):)

Let it go and move on. The land owner is waiting for the lease to expire and opting not to renew. That is the right of the landowner.

They also are opting not to lease the property to anyone, instead planning to redevelop the property. A good-faith re-lease or renewal lease clause (if it exists in their contract) is only valid if the landowner chooses to lease the same property again. That is not happening.

It is really odd here that a soon-to-be former renter believes that he can dictate future property use by a landowner.

It is likely that a judge will throw this suit out as meritless for lack of stating an actual cause of action under the law.


Like this comment
Posted by robstar
a resident of Willowgate
on Aug 26, 2018 at 10:35 am

robstar is a registered user.

I like Biergarden and will be sad to see it go, but such is the nature of renting. That said, I'd be interested in knowing more about why this particular lot has had such high turnover over the past 15 years. Also, re: redevelopment, we really need to find a policy solution for parking. Making buildings Castro more than one story sounds intuitively good and I'm for it _if_ we build more public parking -- simply granting variances isn't working.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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