Pita Grill Owner Speaks About Closure; Another Kabob Joint To Move In

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Edwin Goei
Last week, we reported that Pita Grill in Irvine was suddenly and unceremoniously closed. After the post published, Amer Taha, its owner, got in touch with us and told us of his struggle with his landlord, The Irvine Company.

As some of our readers noted on the comment board of our post, Taha confirmed that the sudden closure was not by choice.

He said that The Irvine Company told him Pita Grill was not a good fit for the center.

"We had an option to renew for five more years, so we had our attorney send a letter of our intentions to exercise the option," Taha said.

The Irvine Company countered with a claim that he owed late fees back from 2009 and 2010, Taha told me. Taha argued that these late fees were supposed to have been waived by an Irvine Company representative at the time.

The case ultimately went to court where "The judge took the Irvine company side and evicted us," Taha said.

I asked whether Taha knew that his space is already set aside for a new tenant, DonerG, the Anaheim Turkish kabobery.

"I know they leased the space to a similar outfit, which is funny," he said.

"We were number one in sales," Taha continued. "Since we moved in, four restaurants in the center moved out. Its not a hot center but we did good because we were different."

As for the future, Taha is planning to reopen Pita Grill.

"We have two locations that we are working on right now," he stated.

"Neither one is in Irvine."

He did not confirm whether he was looking somewhere in Tustin, as some of his loyal customers have told me.

"We should have a lease on one in the next couple of weeks," he said.

More detail on that as it comes.

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My Voice Nation Help

Donald Bren might as well be the CEO of the Umbrella Corporation.

vegandawg23 topcommenter

I don't get why this is news. If you own a building and you don't like the person living there and want someone else to move in then what's the problem in kicking them out and saying "I don't want you living here anymore.". Isn't this essentially what happened? Does the Irvine Company as a private company owe anyone an explanation? 

JBinOC topcommenter

I was the first of the "some of our readers" who noted on the comment board of the original blog post that the closure likely had everything to do with The Irvine Company. 

And here's another wild thought from me...I'm not sure when exactly Pita Grill opened (somewhere in the range of 2008-2010 is my best guess) but I bet the original renewal option terms -- negotiated during that very down period known as the Great Recession -- didn't compensate The Irvine Company as well enough as would kicking them out and bringing in DonerG at a higher rent here in 2013. 

So The Irvine Company found a technicality to evict them and then had their spinmasters craft a message that they will be bringing restaurants that "people want" to the shopping center.  Sound familiar?  Of course it does. 

Really, is the Irvine market so great that an entrepreneur would want to have The Irvine Company as their landlord?  I break out in hives every time I'm in one of the properties and I see those "NO LEFT TURN" signs in the Irvine Company font. 

GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@vegandawg23 Yes, yes they do. Now go back to polluting our news blog with your venom.

vegandawg23 topcommenter

You hurt my feelings Gustavo . I rather like you.

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