Bierhaus may close due to landlord dispute

Mike Finley stands outside Bierhaus, his beer garden at 383 Castro St. in Mountain View. Bierhaus’ lease is set to expire next month and the landlords say they don’t want to renew. Post photo by Allison Levitsky.

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

A popular beer garden in downtown Mountain View may shutter when its lease ends next month, but Bierhaus owner Mike Finley says he’d be willing to cut a deal with the landlords if they let him stay.

Landlords Nghiem Truong and her husband Khoe Tran said yesterday (Aug. 1) that they don’t plan to renew Finley’s lease despite the bustling gastropub’s success, citing Finley’s late monthly rent payments. He pays about $14,500 a month in rent.

Finley admits that he routinely sent his rent checks in late, but said that while his lease states that payment is due on the first of the month, it doesn’t include a penalty for late payments.

Finley acknowledged that he let his stubbornness get the better of him when he told them he was just going to keep paying on the 15th of the month, which he said “enraged” the landlords.

New building proposed for property

Truong and Tran have an application in with the city to build a 33,801-square-foot office building that would include a restaurant and retail space on the ground floor.

If that project is approved, it likely wouldn’t open for two years or more.

Finley said he’s not interested in continuing to operate Bierhaus at the new building, but would like to continue operating before it’s built.

He said he suspects that Truong and Tran will continue operating a beer garden in the space after he moves out, reasoning that with the loyal customer base, it wouldn’t make sense for the landlords to redo the restaurant or bring in a new restaurateur for a two-year stint.

Not the first beer and burger place

Truong said they didn’t have specific plans for what kind of restaurant to open, but said that serving beer in downtown Mountain View wouldn’t be an original idea.

“On Castro Street, everybody sells beer and they sell the hamburgers,” Truong said. “They did the same thing, what Mike have.”

Finley speculated that Truong and Tran resent that he’s making money from sales on the patio, an area where they don’t charge rent. He said he’d be willing to count a percentage of the patio space toward the rent if they’d let him stay, and said that by ending his lease, the landlords were shooting themselves in the foot by upsetting loyal customers.

Customers like the patio

Three of the regular patrons sipping gold-hued beers out of glass steins at long patio tables yesterday said they’d miss Bierhaus if it closed.

John Burns and Carl Hubbard said they’ve been visiting Bierhaus between once a month and twice a week since it opened.

Other bars on Castro are “not as inviting,” Burns said.

Bruno Hexsel, a robotics engineer who lives a few blocks from Bierhaus, said he and his wife have been going about once a week since 2012, when the restaurant was still operating under the name Steak Out.

“It’s kind of our Sunday activity,” Hexsel said, noting that while there are a number of breweries on Castro Street, Bierhaus’ patio gives it the best ambience.

17 Comments

  1. >Finley admits that he routinely sent his rent checks in late…acknowledged
    >he let his stubbornness get the better of him when he told them he was just
    >going to keep paying on the 15th of the month…he’s making money from sales
    >on the patio, an area where they don’t charge rent

    If I were the landlord I’d have kicked this guy out in a minute…the first time he was late with his payment. Plenty tenants around without his attitude, profiting from agreements and at the same time trying to screw the landlord…

    Count me as one that won’t step into any business run by Mike Finley.

  2. Yes, I agree. He seems the kind of person that tries to get something out of agreements that are not there because he can, because he is “smarter”. And if he’s taking advantage of his landlord and boasts about it why would anyone trust this guy to rent out space for his next business or have anything to do with him? Not me. And certainly not anyone in my circle. We have far better things to do than watch our backs with those we enter into business relationships.
    From the article the landlords Truong and Tran seem decent and well meaning. Time for them to let this guy go and find better quality tenants.

  3. When is it ok for journalism to paint Finley as the protagonist and Truong and Tran as the antagonists? When the journalist is showing her micro aggression card. I feel now that whenever I read an article from Levitsky I am reading through the lens of someone who is a subtle racist. That puts a sour taste in my mouth because of these times we live in, and because it is not exemplary of the enlightenment we all deserve from our reporters. I mean, come on, the guy’s always late on rent.

  4. Mary, granted the article gave more coverage to Mike Finley than to the landlords (Truong-Tran)and you have to put some effort in to determine it is Finley that is being abusive whereas the landlords are justified in kicking Finley out. Granted also the reporter could have done better in highlighting the wrong done to the landlords.

    That said I don’t see that as any suggestive the reporter “is a subtle racist.” Far from it my understanding of Ms Levitsky’s reporting and coverage of issues is she is neutral, reports the facts as she finds them, gives both sides a chance to present their story (see her coverage of Hotel President and a lawsuit in Los Altos). The landlords in this matter may have chosen to not say anything in public lest it get in the way of potential litigation. As for Finley who spoke a lot it only reveals what a scoundrel he is….and in that respect we have to thank Ms Levitsky.

  5. If the patrons of this bier-haus realize the “popularity” of the business, arising from their patronage, is giving the owner leverage in continuing to exploit and screw the landlords they would stop going there, depriving the owner of any leverage or legitimacy and rendering him into what he actually is–dependent on the mercies of the customers and landlord and those he does business with, and not the egotistical entitled bully he comes across as.
    What an repugnant character! this is one article that motivated me to stop and encourage others from stopping to be a customer at this business!

  6. Mary’s comment is ridiculous. I don’t see any evidence that the reporter exhibited racism. She simply relayed what each side had to say, including the fact that Finley is repeatedly late with his rent. The reporter did her job of giving people the facts but not drawing conclusions. And Mary says the reporter played her “Micro aggression card”. What is that? I’ve heard of overly-sensitive college professors claiming certain students, if they smirked at somebody or rolled their eyes, were guilty of “micro aggressions”. What is a “micro aggression” in this case?

  7. Beer and burgers might not be a new idea, but that was a dead corner before Steakout. How many restaurants failed right there. Might be the landlords’ place, but it was empty and sad before Finley remade it.

  8. >it was empty and sad before Finley remade it

    Ok, kudos to Finley and let him “remake” many other empty and sad spots and hone his skills at intentionally delaying rental payments, re-purposing space for commerce without paying rent for such space, and so on. He does seem to be a man of many skills after all and needs new canvas for his artistic endeavors. Out out out with him in his current space…

    • It’s much easier to cash even late checks than it is to create a successful restaurant over a long period. Of course you can do as you like and rent to whom you want. But as a community member with no dog in this fight, I see no shortage of landlords maximizing profits with exhorbitant rents. Big money low quality tenants result. Chains that will be sure to pay on time. What we lack are quality restaurants with outdoor seating. If you drafted a lease that didn’t realize the most attractive part of that property, that’s on you. All sides would have benefited from a more intelligent contract.

      • >All sides would have benefited from a more intelligent contract.

        Yes, a better contract would have helped. Hopefully the landlords learned and would find a better lawyer to craft their next contract. That said a more reasonable tenant, which Finley assuredly doesn’t seem to be, would have paid rents on time and also negotiated a fee for the use of the patio that was not included in the contract. And if the community values quality restaurants then why haven’t then spoken up to demand the owners of those restaurants operate in a quality way? Can’t serve quality to customers while being devious to landlords and other business partners.

        In summary, getting rid of Finley and finding the next tenant seem the right next steps for all concerned. Plenty there that can operate a burger joint (or better) without being masters of deviousness as Finley has shown himself to be.

  9. So who owns or controls the patio? Why are sales there “rent-free”? Can someone clarify?

    “Finley speculated that Truong and Tran resent that he’s making money from sales on the patio, an area where they don’t charge rent.”

    I’m surprised that the landlords didn’t specify a late penalty. That should be standard for lease agreements. They cannot get angry for late payments if they didn’t specify a penalty.

  10. >They cannot get angry for late payments if they didn’t specify a penalty.

    They cannot get angry, yes, but they can boot Finley out.
    Hard and fast.
    Just as he deserves, for his arrogance, sense of entitlement leading him to grab what is not his, push and exploit gaps in business contracts, and treat what are business relationships (where he is a dependent) as transactions (where he can get away with what he grabs).

  11. Finley is a dumb. If you do not treat each other with professional respect both will get screwed. I would of kick his butt out after the second late payment. Jerks never learn and only gets worse with age.

  12. It’s over Finley, you’ve stayed there too long, had too many favors extended to you and too little respect for the owners. All while taking in a lot of money.
    Wonder what his rent is? Is it even market value?

  13. You guys really need to include all the facts. The shady, greedy owners are apparently planning to steal the Bierhaus theme and open up their own copycat version after they kick Finley out. Don’t be fooled into supporting those blood sucking owners!

  14. >The shady, greedy owners… those blood sucking owners

    Oh, could you be engaging in projection of the textbook kind? You are attributing to the owners what the tenant has engaged in: shady behavior, greed, and “blood sucking”.
    Look, if Finley had made his rent payments on time (vs being late and then making late payments the norm), paid up to the landlords for using the patio (on which he makes money), been reasonable vs stubborn (by his own admission) the landlords would have kept him as tenant. Now they have no option but to kick him out…and the community wants good business owners, not those like Finley that abuse the system…and they would support any burger joint there once Finley is out of the way.

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