Rich Mead's Sage Restaurant Takes Fight With Landlord Public

Rich Mead, the self-described “IRS paper pusher” turned chef/restaurateur, is now in a public struggle with his landlord, The Irvine Company, to renew the lease on his Newport Beach restaurant. 

Sage, which has been in business at Eastbluff Village Center in Newport Beach for the last 15 years, will be forced to close at the end of December. The Irvine Company is not allowing them to renew. Mead has taken to the pages of his website and Facebook to encourage his customers to plead with his landlord to change its mind.

He writes:

We have been in our space in Eastbluff for almost 15 years and the lease expires at the end of 2012. We have unsuccessfully attempted over the last year and a half to reach an agreement with our landlord, the Irvine Co., to extend our lease.

I am reaching out to you our friends and customers to send an e-mail to the Irvine Company and let them know your feelings about this. We have worked long and hard to create a good restaurant, our service is friendly, our food remains creative and among the best offered anywhere in Orange County. We have been working directly with our farmers for more than a decade to ensure fresh and safe food. Freshness and quality has always been of the utmost importance.
The Irvine Co. needs to hear from our customers and members of the community that our food and concept is what you want in your neighborhood and that the institutional approach that is often taken in Newport Beach would be a disappointment. We have worked very hard to be a good neighbor as well as a good neighborhood restaurant in a great community.

Since the letter was made public, Mead posted a response that one of its customers received from the Irvine Company when they inquired about it. Mead prefaced it with:
Here is the response one of our members received from the Irvine Company regarding our lease. If you are tired of them steamrolling local small businesses in favor of corporate chain restaurants, please contact to them and ask them to reconsider.
The Irvine Company letter put it this way: 
The Irvine Company has worked closely with the ownership of Sage and Sage on the Coast, through the ups and downs of the economy for many years. The lease for Sage in Eastbluff will expire in December 2012 and will not be renewed. As a matter of professional practice, tenant matters are kept private.
The restaurant business is one of evolution and change. As a company, we work hard to ensure that the mix between eating establishments and other tenants in our centers creates a synergy that results in a thriving destination for shoppers and diners. That is why the Irvine Company is now seeking to bring a new and unique restaurant experience to the Eastbluff Village Center. We hope to have exciting news for you in the near future.
Over the past few years, the Irvine Company has reinvested $3.4 million into renovating Eastbluff Village Center. It is a vital part of our retail portfolio and it is our sincere intention to keep it a productive, vital and special part of the community.

Sage's sister restaurant, Sage on the Coast, closed two years ago. Meanwhile, Canyon, Mead's Anaheim Hills restaurant, is still going strong.

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