City officials said Sue Martinovich, who owns the hotel building at 855 Main St., is in the process of negotiating with a new restaurant to fill the space. She hopes to complete the negotiations in time for a new restaurant to open by the end of summer.
It's the second time in just a little over two years that the hotel's restaurant has closed. Restaurant owner Bill Laube and his wife Vernie were forced to give up the restaurant they had operated in the hotel since 1983 when Martinovich refused to renew their lease. Laube said 40 employees lost their jobs after a closing-down gala he held on New Year's Eve at the end of 2008.
It's not clear who will lose their jobs in this latest closing. Shannon Gallagher, a graduate of Foothill High School, is the bartender; Melissa Orgain is banquet manager; Rinaldi is the restaurant's business manager, and Roberto Ortiz is the head chef.
The restaurant closing is not a surprise. It's been known for several months that Martinovich was working with a broker to sell the restaurant with rumors that she is also interested in selling the hotel.
She has owned the two-story building since 1980, long after the facility actually offered overnight rooms for guests. She ran the ground floor restaurant for three years before selling that operation to the Laubes, who made the front end into a white tablecloth upscale restaurant best known for its lamb chops and Sunday brunches.
Martinovich, who comes from a restaurant family, opened the Elegant Farmer with her former husband and parents at Jack London Square in 1980. A down-home type of restaurant, it was an immediate success in competition with high-price upscale eateries at the square, serving what Martinovich says was "normal food at very reasonable prices."
That was the appeal she tried to bring to Pleasanton, taking off the white tablecloths to serve simple, plain American food. Her fried chicken entree was among the most popular.
Although Martinovich has been active in Pleasanton Downtown Association events, her once ambitious plans to expand both the hotel and the restaurant never materialized. She told city officials that she intended to extend the north end of the hotel into a one lane driveway that runs alongside the building and then to open an outdoor restaurant with tables and service along the banks of the Arroyo Del Valle.
That never happened although both the PDA and city planners encouraged her to proceed with those plans.