Oakley leaders and at least one business owner are hopeful that pizza is the answer for sustained success at a downtown location where two other restaurants have struggled.
The Oakley City Council recently approved plans for Skipolini’s Pizza to move into the two-story building on the corner of Main Street and Vintage Parkway.
Italian restaurant Buon Appetito had operated out of the location at 3070 Main St. since 2017, but it has struggled to reach profitability goals and plans to close.
“I see this as an awesome opportunity for Oakley,” City Councilmember Sue Higgins said.
Skipolini’s Pizza, which has six Northern California locations and one in Reno, will be the third restaurant to occupy the space since the Oakley Redevelopment Agency constructed the building in 2013.
Carpaccio’s Restaurant operated out of the facility until 2017, when it closed its doors due to financial hardship.
Buon Appetito then moved in, but it too has struggled financially over the last year and a half, despite the council agreeing to reduce its monthly rent to $5,000 in December 2019. At the time the monthly rent was set to jump to $7,000.
Skipolini’s owner, Kent Ipsen, plans to open the restaurant in September or October, after making an estimated $600,000 to $750,000 in building improvements.
Ipsen did not return requests for comment as of press time.
City officials, along with Buon Appetito and Skipolini’s, have worked out an agreement to allow Skipolini’s to move in.
Skipolini’s will be charged $1 monthly rent for the first 28 months, later jumping to $5,000 monthly.
The city will also cover a roughly $600 monthly common-area maintenance charges during the initial 28-month period.
The lease will run through May 31, 2035, with options to extend it via three- or five-year terms and an opportunity to purchase the building outright beginning in 2025.
City officials said the advantageous monthly rent deal takes into account the estimated $600,000 to $750,000 in planned building improvements that would virtually all remain with the building if Skipolini’s were to leave.
“We are coming out of a very unique situation with COVID-19,” Mayor Kevin Romick said. “We are unsure what type of world will exist six months from now. We are unsure what businesses will be able to reopen when the go-ahead is given that you can take your mask off and go anywhere you want to as often as you need to. In light of that, to have someone come in and say they are willing to invest $700,000 into your community — willing to take on this responsibility, these risks of what this brave new world may look like when it’s finally over — is very unique. This city desperately needs a draw downtown.”
Fellow councilmember Michael Krieg agreed.
“Buon Appetito has already said they are not in a position to reopen,” he said. “In the current climate, I think it would be pretty unlikely we would have a tenant in there for the next couple of years anyway and certainly not one of the caliber of Skipolini’s. I support every aspect of the proposal.”
The business is expected to apply for a loan of up to $75,000 from the city’s Downtown Revitalization Loan Program to fund a portion of proposed building improvements, including paint, awnings and other outdoor improvements.
A selection of other planned improvements includes new flooring, carpets, paint, lighting, a reconfigured bar area, a publicly viewable kitchen and four new outdoor patio areas, accompanied by outdoor lighting, plants, water features, music and activities like cornhole.
Oakley City Councilmember Randy Pope said he’s excited for the business’s arrival.