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Update: Max's Owner Says Rent Was Too High

Days before their surprising closure, Max's Diner was still taking reservations.

It's unclear if restaurant employees knew about the diner's closure, which occurred Dec. 26. Photo by Cathy Montag
It's unclear if restaurant employees knew about the diner's closure, which occurred Dec. 26. Photo by Cathy Montag

by JANE McINNIS

Cathy Montag had reservations for her parents' 37th wedding anniversary at Max's Diner on Dec. 26. She made the reservations over the phone three days in advance. But when she pulled up to the restaurant that Thursday, the restaurant was dark with a sign written with red crayon on the window.

"Max's has closed thank you for your patronage," it read.

Yes, Max's Diner in San Ramon has abruptly closed, but no one seemed to have much of a warning. The company, which has a face in the Bay Area with locations from Redwood City to San Francisco, showed no signs of closing.

Employees were still taking reservations days before the closure, so it's unclear if they were aware that the diner would be closing the day after Christmas.

Owner Matt Parhizkar said the rent was too high at $28,000 a month. He said the lease came up and they didn't renew.

The city allowed too many small restaurants with a 'lower overhead', which made it too difficult to compete, Parhizkar said.

"My husband and I met there 20 years ago. End of an era," said Danica Clark of San Ramon.

The restaurant was featured as the 'Most-Reviewed Restaurant on Yelp' in San Ramon earlier in May of 2013 on Patch.

Related: What Should Move in to Max's Place?

Sue January 03, 2014 at 04:33 PM
First of all Kimco Realty Management is the WORST management company around. They never return phone calls and never fix anything that needs to be fixed. Have you taken a drive around the back parking lot and seen the disgusting area by the waste cans? Garbage and Boxes piled 6 ft high and they expect tenants to park in the back and walk down those disgusting steps??? A good friend of mine fell down the greasy litter filled steps when she was pregnant and hurt her back badly. She had to be taken off work and they STILL haven't cleaned it up and her baby is a year old already. I wouldn't rent a space from them if it was offered for FREE.
Just a SR Dad January 03, 2014 at 04:42 PM
The SR location was sold a number of years ago, so while the name was Max's it wasn't part of the family for quite some time. But, agree that the place went to $&@? when the ownership changed. Sad to see it go, but it was sadder to see the quality decline to the point where it no longer was worth it.
Alex Gronke (Editor) January 03, 2014 at 06:01 PM
The city business license listing says Max's had 43 employees in November. That's a lot of jobs to lose.
Mark of Danville January 03, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Alex! Each and every one of those employees might have saved Max's from it's demise!! I don't believe it was a mandate from an evil corporation to treat patrons so poorly or operate under such filthy conditions. 43 people might possibly remember in their next job to think out of the minimum wage box.....
Sue January 03, 2014 at 08:19 PM
That city business license information had to be out of date. There is NO WAY Max's employed 43 people at that facility. Just like everything else, they were too lazy to make things "up to date."
Just a SR Dad January 03, 2014 at 10:20 PM
For a restaurant of that size, 43 jobs is about right. Most food service employees are part-time, shift, etc. so that number does not surprise me at all when you add up cooks, prep, servers, bussers, bar, mgrs, etc.
Andy Smith January 04, 2014 at 09:12 AM
I guess I have to agree with others here. I'm really not surprised that it closed. I remember when their food was great, and the place was clean. But OMG the last few years I've gone there, that older woman at the front who checks you in and sometimes seats you---she was SO RUDE!!! And the floors were always filthy, the tables were covered in fingerprints, and it just generally was not clean. It had potential, but it's obvious that whoever the current owners are decided to just "let it go" and get as much money out of it as they could before closing.
Terri January 04, 2014 at 10:42 AM
Sue, you hit the nail on the head! We have leased property from Kimco and their promises are big and their delivery VERY small - but their charges for managerial "services" always remained the same with VERY questionable fees! What is incredibly scary with all commercial retail landlords is that as a tenant you have no right to review how they arrive at the supposed proportionate fees charged to each occupant. If you balk, they can close your store of you do not pay. If you choose to audit, you pay the costs for the audit - not the landlord. A good landlord will provide you with copies of bills incurred for the property and the formula used to arrive at your portion of these fees. VERY few do this - beware if you are a new business owner and are not savvy!
Longtime Resident January 04, 2014 at 07:19 PM
"The city allowed too many small restaurants with a 'lower overhead', which made it too difficult to compete, Parhizkar said." What a laugh. No, the city didn't allow too many small restaurants in. You ran the place into the ground.
Ms. B January 05, 2014 at 01:23 PM
After losing Izzy's and now Max's (the old Max's... when it was truly a great place,) I do suspect that rents are too high in San Ramon. If we're not careful we'll end up like Dublin with a huge vacancy rate and empty store fronts. I really can't wait to find out where Izzy's will end up. They NEED to come back.
Citizen and lifetime taxpayer January 06, 2014 at 09:33 AM
We are losing the good ol' 'American food' restaurants in our metro area (TGI Friday's was another disappointing close). Good to see Black Bear opening in the old Maestro's place (Italian-American) in Pleasanton.
CG January 06, 2014 at 11:07 AM
Max's is gone due to it's own mismanagement, not the City of San Ramon. I belong to a group of 20 that made our best effort to coordinate a weekly breakfast at Max's. What a nightmare, we finally had to leave as the management changed constantly, no one ever knew what they were contracted to do, the food was horrible as it's been for years. There was a nice steady weekly stream of income gone due to incompetence.
Becky January 10, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Mark of Danville, You say, " Each and every one of those employees might have saved Max's from it's demise!! I don't believe it was a mandate from an evil corporation to treat patrons so poorly or operate under such filthy conditions." What is an employee supposed to do? Do they say, "I'm not going to wait tables today, I'm going to give this place a deep cleaning." It's management who directs the employees and allots time and money and manpower to do things a certain way.
San February 03, 2014 at 10:15 PM
I agree that the rent of 28K is a bit steep; which is why the higher prices. Then you have the owners were never present or motivated to provide any direction and the business went south. San Ramon should be offering incentives to bring great restaurants to town. Rent space for a food service operation is very high here.
Bill April 05, 2014 at 02:29 PM
I'm opening in that center in 2 months. Kimko is difficult and they are the largest in the US. It took forever to do the lease. Fingers crossed you never know what is going to happen but I did grow up here and I will do what I can to help the community of San Ramon. Bill
A Parent April 06, 2014 at 11:10 AM
Bill, first, congratulations! Second, what business are you opening? Thanks.
Bill April 07, 2014 at 07:01 PM
Create your own pizza. I have a Facebook and instagram page. On Fire Pizza. I have 2 wood burning ovens from Italy and have 10 to 12 inch pizzas for $7.99 to $12.99. I am Italian certified in this style. We make are own cheese smoke are sausage and bacon. Top quality stuff. Killer salads beer and wine. 2 months out Kimko put me way behind and now its the city's turn let's see how they do. Bill
Andy Smith April 07, 2014 at 07:07 PM
Bill: I'm not sure what you mean, and I'm sure others don't also. Are you saying that you took over the building where Max's used to be? If so, please advise so that we'll know where to go to try out your pizza. If not, then at least gives us an address or something so that we know what city you are in. Thanks.
Andy Smith April 07, 2014 at 07:09 PM
PS: I just went to Facebook and I searched for "On Fire Pizza". Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I'd like to try out your food, but you're not really giving us any clues as to how to find you. Come on!
Andy Smith April 07, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Aaaaaand, I just did a Google search. No such thing as "On Fire Pizza". You post is as clear as mud. If you want customers, you need to communicate better. Thanks.
Bill April 07, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Next door to maxes. Suite 172 I am not sure what is going into maxes they won't tell me. Facebook on fire pizza san Ramon. Bill
Bill April 07, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Its not open were are doing the website now. Its on Facebook I look at it every day.. As I go along you will be well aware of it. I will make sure of that. I thought I at least give some insite to it. Diablo magazine did an article on us. I will give you more as we go. Sorry about the confusion maybe I jumped the gun here. Bill
Andy Smith April 07, 2014 at 07:19 PM
Okay, you're not open yet. No wonder I can't find anything. That was not made clear in your original post. As far as Facebook, what I would do is check your settings. See if you are "searchable" because it sounds like maybe you're set for privacy. When I put "On Fire Pizza" into the FB search box, I get nothing. The closest it gives me is "Fire and Stone Pizza" in FLORIDA.
Bill April 07, 2014 at 07:31 PM
Its there my friend next to me just found it. I will check the ssettings though not a problem. San Ramon is going to be getting something completely different from the ordinary soon enough!! "On fire pizza san Ramon" is the search on Facebook
Andy Smith April 07, 2014 at 08:15 PM
Okay, when you type in "On Fire Pizza San Ramon", yes indeed, it does come up. But something is messed up with your search settings. Most people will leave out the "San Ramon" part like I did. If you search the way that I did, you will see that nothing comes up. Just put "On Fire Pizza" into the search box. Leave out the "San Ramon" part and watch what you get.
Andy Smith April 07, 2014 at 08:18 PM
Oh wow, and I see you are across the street pretty much from Zachary's. This will be interesting! You have some serious competition, but I'm sure you already knew that.
Bill April 07, 2014 at 09:01 PM
Zachary's is AMAZING!!!! Different pizza's all together.
Bill April 07, 2014 at 09:20 PM
If anyone has any questions are Onfirepizza@yahoo.com thanks Bill
A Parent April 14, 2014 at 01:13 PM
Bill - I disagree about Zachary's and I am looking forward to your opening. Can you tell me one thing, is it thin crust like New York or thick crust? Both? Thanks!
Bill April 14, 2014 at 07:06 PM
Hi, it is thin crust. I was trained in neapolitan style and that's what we will serve. I do have to ovens so I can have classic Italian as well. Both thin and amazing in a wood oven. I'd like to keep the price below $10.00 with a few toppings. Bill

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