Richmond Mayor Tom Butt reported stunning news Monday: That popular Marina Bay restaurant Salute e Vita Ristorante, owned by the charitable Menbere Aklilu, has received a 30-day notice to vacate the building by its property owner Penterra Company.
The mayor suspects Richard Poe, a Florida resident and owner of Panterra Company, may be evicting Aklilu and her restaurant in retaliation against the city over a proposed Marina Bay development.
Poe has been upset with Mayor Butt and city officials for blocking his plan to build The Richmond Riviera, a lower density housing project on the waterfront. The city rejected the project on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the Richmond General Plan.
Poe also failed in attempts to pass Measures N and O in the June election. One of the measures would have amended the Richmond General Plan to allow for Poe’s development, while the other would have reduced the Richmond city manager’s compensation.
In response to Salute’s notice to vacate, a press conference on Tuesday protesting Panterra Company’s action will be held at Salute Ristorante, 1900 Esplanade Drive, at 10 a.m., Mayor Butt said.
It was only last week that we reported about Aklilu’s inspiring background and her many contributions to the community. After escaping an abusive relationship as a single mother, she worked her way up from hostess to general manager at Salute’s and eventually purchased the restaurant, which has become a launching pad for her good deeds in Richmond, West County and beyond.
The mayor called Aklilu a local celebrity for her charitable works and “compelling personal story of abuse and homelessness.”
“She delivered the commencement speech at Holy Names University in 2013, received the Jefferson Award in 2015, provides a Thanksgiving feast for the homeless every year and was named to the Women’s Hall of fame by Senator Loni Hancock in 2016,” the mayor noted in his e-forum newsletter Monday afternoon.
Butt also listed some of Menbe’s local accomplishments:
- Sponsored Menbe’s Way Fun, is managed by Richmond Community Foundation.
- Donated to the Richmond Rescue Shelter.
- Hosted annual Thanksgiving dinners for homeless families and individuals at Salute’s since 2011. In 2014 she expanded this dinner to include veterans from Oakland, Richmond and Marin County. Over the years she has developed the Thanksgiving dinner to include a health fair that provides flu shots and personal items for each attendee.
- Hosted annual Mothers’ Day brunches for low income single mothers from the Pullman Point Apartments.
- Provided jobs to young women who live in Pullman Point by hiring them for various positions at Salute e Vita.
- Made substantial funding contributions East Bay Center for Performing Arts.
- Makes continuous contributions to the Family Justice Center.
- Holds regular etiquette classes at her restaurant for young women.