Antioch Council approves sale of former Humphrey’s restaurant to local real estate investor, developer

A view of the former Humphrey’s on the Delta restaurant from the river. Oct. 8, 2017. Photos by Allen Payton

An estimated $1,000,000 in renovations have already begun, restaurant will have a seafood, nautical theme.

By Allen Payton

According to a press release from the city, “The City of Antioch is excited to announce the sale of the old Humphrey’s Restaurant at the Antioch Marina in preparation for a new quality restaurant. Since 2012 the One Marina Plaza building, also known as Humphreys Restaurant, has sat vacant. At their Tuesday night Nov. 14 meeting the City Council voted unanimously to approve the sale of the property to Sean McCauley Investments, Inc. (SMI) for $1,200,000.

SMI is planning to renovate the building over the next several months and will be entering into a lease with RLW Properties the owners/operators of Zephyr Grill and Bar, who currently have two restaurant locations in Brentwood and Livermore. RLW Properties will finalize the interior improvements including an entirely new kitchen as well as a banquet facility for this unique waterfront establishment.

This acquisition by SMI will continue the revitalization of Antioch’s historic downtown.”

The sale includes both the building, which the city acquired a few years ago, as well as the land which the city has owned since the restaurant was first built.

Families enjoy dining at Humphrey’s on Mother’s Day in 2011. Herald file photo.

Following the staff presentation by Antioch’s Economic Development Program Manager Lizeht Zepeda and Allan Walkin, a consultant who works with the city on real estate issues, Councilman Tony Tiscareno was the first to comment and ask questions.

“I know you’re doing everything that you can to improve the downtown,” he said to McCauley. “We’ve been frustrated with the marina, with the downtown area. For many years the downtown area hasn’t really moved as much as we want it to. I’m optimistic. There’s potential out there.”

“What happens if Zephyr’s doesn’t pan out?” Tiscareno then asked.

“The frustration you have, with the economic downturn, many cities experienced that,” McCauley responded. “Antioch is a little bit behind the curve.”

“If Zephyr’s doesn’t come in then we will find someone else,” he explained. “The problem with the building is it’s old. An operator isn’t a construction company. They want to walk into a place and say ‘OK this is my vision. This is what I want to do.’ When you walk into over there it’s kind of difficult to do. That’s the missing piece. This is why I’m here. I can kind of fill in that gap.”

“So, who do we get if Randy and Lynn (the owners of Zephyr) don’t come through?” McCauley asked responding to Tiscareno’s question. “I’m not really worried about it. It’s my $1.2 million that I earned. I’m not going to let it sit around.”

“You are going to make it restaurant ready for the most part for these folks,” stated Tiscareno.

“The only one you should be worried about is me,” McCauley said with a laugh by him and Tiscareno.

“I do to a certain respect,” Tiscareno said. “I want to make sure you continue to invest in this city and I know you’re doing that and also entice others. So, this is a starting point. I’m really encouraged. I really want to see this go through. I’m looking forward to dining out there.”

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe then made a motion to approve the sale of the property and Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock seconded it.

“I’ve lived here five years and I’ve never seen Humphrey’s open,” Thorpe said. “So, let’s make something happen.”

However, before he allowed the vote, Mayor Sean Wright had one question of staff and McCauley.

“I’m excited to see you come in,” Wright said. “There’s nothing in the contract that I see that has any sort of non-performance clause. I know that you’re not worried about that. But, let’s say in three years you haven’t fixed it up. There’s nothing protecting the city from you sitting on this forever. Am I wrong, Allan?”

“No that’s correct,” Walkin responded.

“As we finalize this is there some any for us to have some sort of assurance?” Wright asked.

“No,” McCauley responded to laughter from Wright. “We need to do this deal now.”

“No, no. I’m not trying to push it off,” Wright said.

“Are you talking in respect to fixing the building up?” McCauley saked.

“Yeah, I’m talking in respect of fixing the building,” Wright responded. “You go in there and you go ‘you know what? This isn’t worth it to me.’ You know we’re a year from now we’re still sitting and it still hasn’t been fixed it up.”

McCauley projects there will be $1,000,000 in improvements to the building.

“As far as the building, we did pull all the permits already. We put the fencing up, today,” McCauley responded. “We have a delivery there of lumber. So, we’re ready to go.”

“I’m not trying to put anything on you that is encumbrant,” Wright said. “I mean if you don’t find a tenant I’m willing to work with that.”

“I think we’ll probably be done with the first stage of the construction which is what we really want to do is get the outside and the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance finished,” McCauley explained. “The outside façade, the decking, everything, the dry rot, everything refreshed, the landscaping. If we can engage with Zephyr between that time, great.”

“They’re very excited to be there, by the way,” he continued. “I’ve worked with them in the past, obviously so, I would rather have them there. But, I really want to make the first impression if another operator has to come in there, I want it a no-brainer for them. When you walk into that building and you see what it can be, it’s exciting.”

“Let’s get this done,” Wright responded.

“I just want to put everybody’s mind at ease,” Ogorchock stated. “If Sean McCauley Investments, if he says he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it,” Ogorchock said. “So, he will do exactly what he says he’s going to do. Every bit of my faith is in Sean. So, thank you, Sean.”

“Thank you,” McCauley responded.

Then the council voted 5-0 to approve the sale to applause from the audience.

Following the meeting, McCauley who owns other buildings in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown including the Old Casino Building next Waldie Plaza and the recently acquired Old Garage building on 3rd and H Streets, said he believes the opening of the new restaurant there will be “a key lynchpin to getting the rest of downtown improved.”

“Now all the hard work begins,” he continued, adding “We look forward to making it shine and last and getting the best operator, which I believe will be Randy and his group.”

“It will have a seafood and nautical theme,” McCauley added.

the attachments to this post:

‘s May 2011

‘s from the river 2017 AP

5 Comments to “Antioch Council approves sale of former Humphrey’s restaurant to local real estate investor, developer”

  1. Julio says:

    For the city to enter into this agreement with out a performance clause, bond or some protection is incomprehensible. We are hung out to dry once again no matter how much Mrs. Ogorchock believes in this man. Not good business practice by the city once again. And we are “behind the curve” as Mr. McCauley says because we put ourselves there over and over again.

  2. Rick Carraher says:

    I’m not sure what kind of performance agreement people are looking for. If he hands the City $1.2 million – and the check clears, hasn’t he performed? When you sell your house you don’t ask someone too sign a document that they will cut the grass.

  3. Glen Jones says:

    Good luck to the new restaurant owners. It will be nice to have a new seafood venue to choose from. I just hope they have parking lot security to keep those pesky Pokémon critters out…

  4. Julio says:

    With all due respect to businessman Carraher the city council and city manager have a fiduciary duty to the citizens of Antioch to protect our interests. Very large investors in real estate fold and file bankruptcy all the time leaving cities holding the bag. People much larger than Mr. McCauley. A performance clause is a protection for us. It is also not good business to continue to do business so casually with “friends”. The last time the city did this the investor went to jail and two council members thought their phones were tapped and knew the FBI was after them too.

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