Aug 12, 2016

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt on Friday laid out a proposal he hopes will convince a property owner against evicting the owner of Salute e Vita Ristorante from the restaurant’s longtime Marina Bay location.

The plan has involved plenty of kindhearted folks in the community who have stepped up to assist Salute owner Menbere Aklilu, who last year won the Jefferson Award for community volunteerism for using her restaurant as a launching pad for local charitable acts.

The community was stunned Monday to learn that Aklilu had received a 30-day notice to vacate the property at 1900 Esplanade Drive by Panterra Company, owned by Richard Poe.

The mayor accused Poe of political retribution, saying Poe was evicting Aklilu in order to get back at the mayor and city of Richmond for blocking his proposed waterfront development.

Poe’s mother, Jacqueline, denied that claim to the East Bay Times, telling the newspaper the eviction notice stemmed from frustration over deferred maintenance at the Salute property. Poe complained of “standing water” in the kitchen and foul bathroom conditions.


Those claims were not proven during a county inspection done earlier this month, which “found no evidence of a sewage spill and noted that drains in the kitchen were all functioning and the bathrooms were in good condition,” the Times reported.

Mayor Butt, a veteran architect, says he went to Salute’s to do his own inspection. While several thousand dollars of maintenance is needed, including repairing one leak affecting the kitchen floor, according to the mayor, “it is manageable, does not constitute a health hazard and can be accomplished without closing the restaurant.”

The only issue discovered in the bathroom was a leak under the women’s restroom that will be “repaired possibly as early as today, or at most, Monday,” Butt added.

The mayor said it is “fortunate that Menbe has lots of friends who want to help.”

“One in particular has taken it upon himself to engage and pay a team of contractors, including a hazardous materials cleanup specialist, to make a thorough inspection of the restaurant crawl space,” the mayor said.

The mayor hopes that these repairs will convince the Poe family to allow Aklilu and Salute to continue to operate at 1900 Esplanade.

Aklilu acquired Salute about 15 years ago, but her lease for the building expired seven years ago.She has been on “month-to-month” status ever since, according to the mayor.

Hundreds of people rallied on Aklilu’s behalf at a press conference held by the mayor at Salute on Tuesday morning. The mayor has asked her supporters to send a polite letter to the Poe family asking to cease the eviction or sell the property.

“Hopefully, Jacqueline Poe will reconsider her eviction order,” the mayor said.

Photo: Mayor Tom Butt’s e-forum.

An earlier version of the story incorrectly identified Jacqueline as Richard Poe’s wife when she is his mother.


  1. Please get your FACTS STRAIGHT!!!

    Jacqueline Poe is not Richard Poe’s wife, she is his mother!

    She is also the owner of the building and the landlord.

    Richard Poe has never been Menbere’s landlord and only learned of the eviction after the fact.

    As Jackie explained to the press on Tuesday, “Richard said, “Mom, what are you thinking?”, when she told him about it.

    Now why didn’t the press include that in their write ups? Gee, that wouldn’t make for as good of a story saying how vindictive Richard Poe is and that all of this is out of spite for losing on Measure N.

    Please don’t be fooled by the Mayor and seek the truth and what’s really going on here. The Mayor is using Menbere’s situation in his own political vendetta against Richard Poe.

    Who are the people who haven’t gotten past Measures N & O – Mayor Tom Butt and Bill Lindsay. The Mayor is the one publicly being spiteful, making defamatory comments and false accusations, and simultaneously trying to come out the hero.

    All of the FACTS will come out in due time. Please remember to hear both sides to a story, seek out all of the facts & the TRUTH, and then form an educated opinion. There is a much bigger play in motion here and Mayor Butt is puppeteering the ignorant masses to perfection. Please do not be fooled!

    Don't be fooled by Mayor Butt | Aug 12th, 2016
  2. It really is a shame that we can’t rely upon the press to do their job, investigate the story from both sides, and present an unbiased account. Sadly, those reports are extremely rare these days.

    Don't be fooled by Mayor Butt | Aug 12th, 2016
  3. It really is a shame that we can’t rely upon the press to do a proper investigation these days – one that dutifully examines a story from both sides, and then presents an unbiased account so that people can form a truly educated opinion. This is critical, and those types of reports further serve to highlight patterns in public figures’ behaviors, actions, and “political spin”. Sadly, those type of reports are extremely rare these days and I’m not convinced we’ll get them back any time soon.

    I strongly encourage this reporter to reach out to Jackie Poe and present her side of the story, in detail, with the accompany facts. The people deserve that much. And in so doing, the reporter would discover the mistruths and inconsistencies in the web of deceit that has been masterfully spun by both Mayor Butt and Menbere.

    Now that would be a great investigative story and a refreshing change for readers instead of the constant BS we are served up by the Mayor, and which is so willingly published by so many media outlets.

    Don't be fooled by Mayor Butt | Aug 12th, 2016
  4. Don’t be fooled is absolutely correct. Learn all the true facts before coming to any conclusions. Some Politicians in this city have proven themselves to be blatant liars. So question number 1: why is the mayor of richmond involved in a private sector dispute that has nothing to do with him, especially with all the problems the city is facing. I am sure his time would be better spent resolving far more important issues. Question number 2: why does he bring up Poe? I have not read or heard any from Poe since the failure N and O. So who is being vindictive? Better question is why? Although the renter may be a lovely person and does good work, she is not the land owner therefore her rights are limited at best. Honestly it sounds like plot to steal the owners property, or force them out through bad publicity .
    Shame, shame, shame!!!

    tired of the incompetence | Aug 14th, 2016
  5. Please, this comments section is a joke. Reads just like all of the other Richmond Standard online articles relating to the Poe family/Virtual Dev. Corp., except “Richard Poe” has been replaced by “Don’t be fooled by Mayor Butt” and “tired of the incompetence”. You provide one quotation for which there are no witnesses then ramble on about “hearing from both sides”, bad reporting practices and even a conspiracy to steal the property.
    Actions speak for themselves. Hope your next mailer smear campaign works out. Or are you going to go with staged surveys instead? Either way, I’m glad the Richmond Small Business Association is supporting local businesses…

    Thanks for responding, Poe & Co | Aug 15th, 2016

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.