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Morocco's owner sues landlord over closure

Original post made on Jul 3, 2018

The owner of the now-closed downtown restaurant Morocco's is suing his old landlords, blaming them for driving him out of business by handing down massive rent increases.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 9:40 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by Steve
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2018 at 10:51 am

Good luck to the business owner representing himself, but the fact is many commercial leases include non-ambiguous language that passes property tax rate increases to the lessor even if the rate increase was caused by a sale of the property. In residential leases, this wouldn't be allowed, but to be in business you need to be able to invest in a lawyer to review your contracts before you sign them.

I feel bad that the owner isn't able to afford legal costs and signed a lease that didn't work for his business model, but having good representation to review and negotiate contracts is a basic cost of being in business.



Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2018 at 11:13 am

Lots of Mountain View landlords are doubling the rent or lease rates on their properties. This is really not sustainable. What kinds of retail businesses can afford these rents? Will Castro be converted to tech offices, like is already happening in Palo Alto?


Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 3, 2018 at 11:18 am

Gary is a registered user.

Steve is right. The plaintiff better get a lawyer. Was he (or some business entity actually leasing the place) evicted in an earlier case? Why did he leave? Because the claim by the landlord that the rent had doubled? The plaintiff should look at the lease and consider what it says about increases and about attorney fees. It probably has a broad attorney fee provision that will make him liable for a fortune in attorney fees if and when he loses. And, as the attorney for the defense noted in the story, one or more defendants may file a cross-complaint the plaintiff will not be able to dismiss.


Posted by MikeL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm

There has to be a long term view by the council and regulation. Taking the soul out of any downtown, whether it be forcing a restaurant or a book store to close for a quick buck is disgusting and has long lasting effects on a community much beyond any boom cycle. The small amount of retribution against these money grabbing opportunist landlords is that these spaces are staying empty for months or even years; but that doesn’t help anyone and takes more of the soul away than if they are filled with a short lived startup that burns through their cash in 3 months.


Posted by Patric Pierce
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 3, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Unfortunately that's what happened to Seascapes Fish & Pets. It wasn't the rent increases that did it in. They found a buyer but the landlord had a huge lease increase if anyone bought the business making it impossible to sell. Better to close at that point -Little Fish stores are a thing of the past and now so is the verity they provide. Mata-Mata turtle? Chambered Nautilus? Argentinian White faced Black and white Tegu (REZ)? Maybe the reptile room in Hayward but never again at your Castro corner store. We miss you friends and customers.


Posted by Confused
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2018 at 3:16 pm

Is it legal to inform your tenant that you increased the rent several months ago so the first they hear is that they are already behind? Isn’t notification required BEFORE a rent increase?


Posted by Doubtful
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm

I feel for the owner and everyone who’s had a business and been squeezed by rising rents but nothing described so far has a hope of succeeding and the million dollar number is no realistic. This is probably an attempt to get the new owners to give up on their past rent money or get a small amount of satisfaction from being thrown out with a small settlement. Better to move on because the lawsuit is not realistic.


Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Wow, this is resurrected from the past. Didn't the restauranteur return to Morocco? But from the facts at the time, I recall that the rent increase was mostly NOT due to the increase in property tax If you think about it, $4000 per month rent increase is WAY to much to account for paying the property tax increase. Property taxes are high but they are not that high. This was one factor, but there was also a huge increase in operating expenses asp received by the new landlord compared to the one who signed the lease.

It is baffling why this happened, and why the tenant doesn't have a lawyer. But it does look like a problem for the owner of the land. As I recall he was setting this tenant up to pay imaginary operating expenses that would not appear until the building was torn down out from under the tenant and replaced with a much more expensive building.


Posted by more facts
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Morocco's was a 2 suite building with Morocco's only renting one suite. The Entire building is valued at $1.6 Million in 2018, for both suites. The total property tax should be no more than $20K per year, both suites. There was some tax due before.


So WTF is this new owner doing. If he jacked up the Morocco lease payment by $1K per month, that would more than cover the increase in property tax. But he jacked it up by over $4K per month. Property tax is no the whole story. It could be a pattern of fraud on the part of the landowner to claim this.

This is the kind of thing where having a lawyer might mean no suit needed. Hopefully someone is advising the man.


Posted by more facts
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2018 at 4:18 pm

And then there is this retroactive aspect. Ok, maybe property taxes MIGHT be ok in a supplemental assessment received from the county a year later but retroactive to the date of sale. But any other increase in building operating expenses due to some change made by the land owner? What's going on. I'm dying to know.


Posted by dont go away mad
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2018 at 6:26 pm

dont go away mad is a registered user.

So sad. I feel for Morocco owner. For him it was like negotiating with the Mob. He didn’t stand a chance. Maybe a retired Mt View lawyer will step up and help him pro bono. I forgot lawyers work for the mob too


Posted by Peter
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Is that happening to bierhaus too


Posted by Radhika
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jul 3, 2018 at 11:35 pm

Mountain View has changed dramatically over these last 10 years with rents going over the roof for both commercial and residential places. Greed has taken over many landlords who have unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. Tech companies like Google among others are also responsible for this rent menace. Good, law abiding residents are being forced out of the area! Very Sad indeed!


Posted by Prior Restaurant Client
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2018 at 7:35 am

Gang: If you had ever been to this restaurant, you might side with the landlord, went there a couple times & the bill was never correct (Amazing it was all over charges favoring the Restaurant).

Had more than a dozen friends go also ... We (Amazingly) had higher checks that had to be adjusted... Sometimes when he would ask you if you want a sample of XXX & you thought it was a freebie & on the house... he told you YOU ORDERED IT when the bill came....... Sorry no love lost on this Restaurant Owner(s).

While we loved his idea of having entertainment while dining .... Being screwed on the check was not worth it.


Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 4, 2018 at 10:39 am

Greg David is a registered user.

There is so much misinformation in this thread. The owner of Morrocos was running a failing business and tried to blame his woes on the new landlord. Ever since that location was converted to be a restaurant, every single business there has failed in short order. The buildings, actually three buildings, consisting of six units, two of which were Morocco’s, was last sold in the 90’s so the property tax increases were significant. Morocco’s tried to play the landlords in a failed attempt to get a big buyout and then stopped paying their rent. Don’t pay rent? Buh bye! More important, Morocco’s tries to paint the landlord as being a greedy money grabber. Well, if that is the case, why are the Khuu brothers still at 889? And the business office at 881? And then there is me and my neighbors. Yes, same landlord that has been extremely fair and transparent with the tenants in our fourplex, one of which has lived here for over 50 years. The takeaway here is unless you are directly involved and know all the facts, perhaps you should keep you misinformed opinions to yourselves.


Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Well, the county assessor's web site shows the sale in 2015. For 16 17 and 18 it lists the assessed value of all property at both addresses on Castro as totaling $1.6 Million, with annual 2% increases those years. So the property tax per year is under $20,000 for all units on the parcel of land.

2 of 6 or 1 of 2, the Morocco portion of the tax cannot be more than $1K per month.

So there's that. One wonders how the new owner split out the property tax across the rentable footage of the property. Perhaps they were actually reasonable or perhaps they operate like the Mob.


Posted by Eli Patterson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 5, 2018 at 7:28 am

@Greg David defending this landlord/developer yet again. This is becoming quite the pattern with you.

Why is it that you always seem to leap to the defense of this particular property developer regardless of the project? Aren’t you also his tenant in a soon to be developed property?

Curiouser and curiouser


Posted by Paul
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 5, 2018 at 10:10 am

The California Secretary of State's business entity website shows that a corporation named GPR Ventures is suspended and cannot legally operate.


Posted by jon
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm

while i totally sympathize with the owner as a victim of a terrible landlord, i have to also bring up that morcco's was definitely the worst dinner i've ever had on castro street and all in all it's not a huge loss. paid $60+ for a dinner featuring green beans that were from a can. awful place. but i also hope the landlord gets screwed so i'm very conflicted.


Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2018 at 1:31 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Paul you stated:

“The California Secretary of State's business entity website shows that a corporation named GPR Ventures is suspended and cannot legally operate.”

I could not find that information. In fact it is an Active group.

Please show the information you described? Thanks.


Posted by Local
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 5, 2018 at 5:03 pm

Us old timers can remember when Castro street was a ghost town. I’d rather see empty buildings than start up poping up.


Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2018 at 6:26 pm

@Local

There are plenty of rural inland cities that don't happen to be right in the heart of Silicon Valley where you can live out your wish if you so desire.


Posted by Paul
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 5, 2018 at 8:37 pm

On the Sec of State's business search website, I do see a "GPR Ventures, LLC" that is NOT suspended. I guess that is business entity being used.


Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm

We enjoyed the food at lunch.
It will be interesting to see what takes the space and how long it lasts.


Posted by JAdamson
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jul 10, 2018 at 12:25 am

JAdamson is a registered user.

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