I attended the rally for Pt. Pizza on Friday. I was at the corner and I was lending my support. Many people there were supporting different things; I was first and foremost, supporting HyeSong and her employees for her dedication and committment to Pt. Dume for all these years. They are good people and they deserve this kind of farewell. I wasn't sure what to think about D'Amores or Zan Marquis, the landlord. It certainly wasn't clear to me what the objectives were regarding the non renewal, nor did I know what this meant for other Village tenants like Lily's, etc.. I was hesitant to criticize either D'Amores or Mr. Marquis with what I knew at the time.
This Sunday morning I got some answers and a different perspective. I had a chance to meet with Mr. Marquis in front of Savory for a brief, but very informative conversation. First, let me say that on first impression Mr. Marquis came off as a very reasonable and thoughtful gentlemen, certainly not the lampooned caricature that we have been hearing and reading about over the last weeks. He was definitely not "Mr. Potter" from "It's a Wonderful Life".
He told me, and some others I spoke with corroborated this, that Pt. Dume Village was a very different place when he purchased it. When he bought the Village he inherited the "Dume Room". Whatever the original intent was, the "Dume Room" according to various accounts, became a very unsavory (no pun intended) establishment. Among other things, there were drug deals, fights, inappropriate sexual activities, etc., that took place in or around the "Dume Room" on a regular basis. Windows were broken and the safety of the area could not be secured.
The Chinese restaurant had received a "B" rating for it's cleanliness and after further inspection it was deemed to be unfit for operation. Mr. Marquis made the point that he has a sincere interest in making the village a clean, safe place to frequent. He put hundreds of thousands of dollars into Savory restaurant tenant improvements and recruited "Paul" (the chef) in order to facilitate a high quality, unique and healthy, food establishment that Malibu could be proud of. I think he has done that with Savory. He reluctantly got involved financially (with Savory) after a partner backed out but he is presently trying to relinquish any financial stake in Savory.
He told me that he accepted Subway's application after watching the space sit vacant for 3 years. He was offered a 10 year lease that he felt he couldn't pass up given the string of empty businesses in the Village. Out of business necessity he signed on with Subway.
He went to Lily's soon after purchasing the Village and felt like some upgrades were needed in order to bring the restaurant to the standards that he envisioned. He asked the owner's at Lily's to comply and they agreed to make the necessary physical changes to the property.
He claims that the lease with D'Amores has nothing to do with money. The money would have been there whether Pt. Pizza stayed or whether it left. With regards to Pt. Pizza, he stated that he made several appeals to encourage Pt. Pizza to change their product to something he deemed "more healthy". As a landlord, that is his prerogative though some might disagree with the importance of his aims. After many efforts Mr. Marquis was convinced that Pt. Pizza was not interested in complying with the "improvements" that Mr. Marquis had suggested. It was at this point that the decision was made to terminate the lease.
We all (or most of us) loved Pt. Pizza and many of us are sad to see it go. It is important to note that change is often disturbing, but is Mr. Marquis really deserving of the villification that he is receiving?, or is he just a scapegoat for our frustration at seeing a longtime local business close. Some have even made personal attacks against him.
Has anyone noticed the new seating throughout the village and the suspended shade visors that make the area so much more pleasant to visit. I know that I spend much more time there since those additions. The place used to be scorching hot all the time and there was no place to sit, or find relief from the sun. Mr. Marquis brought these improvements into the Village. There is also no question that the entire center feels safe and secure.
I hope this blog is received in the spirit of trying to tell the "rest of the story" from the POV of Mr. Marquis and some others who remember the, (not so) "good old days".
I just hope that everyone takes the time to see the larger picture. It is easy to take a cynical view of the motives of a landlord; there certainly are examples of unpleasant landlords in the world. Surely something has been lost with the departure of Point Pizza, but in the overall perspective, perhaps many of us can say that much has been gained. Only time will tell if Mr. Marquis' vision for the mall is "good, bad, or ugly" but it doesn't appear like there is presently enough evidence to convict.
Three cheers for Pt. Pizza...! We wish you the best!!