Oakland restaurant Palmetto rolled through the punches of modern restaurant life, launching in the midst of a pandemic shutdown in May 2020 with mere to-go items and eventually opening as a full-fledged restaurant with indoor dining. But now the restaurant and the adjacent Kon-Tiki Room are set to call it quits, with its last day set for Sunday, October 29.
Palmetto co-owner Christ Aivaliotis says a lack of revenue and business, along with rising costs contributed to the closing. After a slow summer, they were poised to have a profitable winter, but they just didn’t have the cash reserves to make it that long, he says. Additionally, an application for an employee retention tax break never came through, due to a pause in processing claims.
Despite a recently reimagined new menu that made the restaurant more accessible for diners, “the costs of things kept going up and it was difficult to justify selling the same things for that much more — and, finally, it just caught up with us,” Aivaliotis says. As the restaurant winds down, Aivaliotis says he’ll be working with employees on getting employment at other spots, whether that be at his other business, the Kon-Tiki, or elsewhere.
Meanwhile, this isn’t a closure meant to highlight Oakland’s downfalls that oft get cited, Aivaliotis says, such as property crime. “That story is drowning out the other people who are here trying to make it work and doing a really good job in making this town better,” he says. There are issues with running a business in Oakland, but there are good things too, he adds, mentioning that the Kon-Tiki is set to celebrate its sixth anniversary.
“There’s been a lot of noise made about what’s going on in Oakland, and what’s wrong with Oakland,” Aivaliotis says. “But, for me, that wasn’t the driving factor [for closing], because I think that Oakland is going to come back and be great. I believe in the city, I love the city, and I think it’s a great town to have a business and it’s a great town to be a part of.”
Palmetto (1900 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland) will close on Sunday, October 29.