“I’m not closing because we’re not doing business,” says Tios owner Tim Seaver. “I’m closing because the city’s decided a parking lot’s worth more than nineteen jobs.” Seaver opened Tios on East Huron twenty-three years ago on a piece of property that borders City Hall. The city bought the property last year with the rumored intention of razing the building and paving it over for parking.
According to city administrator Roger Fraser, while “we understand it has some potential for parking. . . . that determination has not been made.” But the city does intend to use the property in some way as part of the ongoing City Hall expansion—so whatever happens with the site, it won’t involve Tios. Seaver’s been told his lease won’t be renewed when it runs out at the end of June.
There’s been a lot of back and forth on what, if anything, the city is willing to do to help the business survive. “What I said was that we were interested in doing what we could to help,” says Fraser. “That was interpreted to mean we were in an active effort to try and find alternatives, which is different. If there was something they came up with for which the city could be helpful, we would be glad to be helpful. But in terms of doing an active search to try to help them determine what their future plans were and how to execute them, we’re not able to do that.”
Seaver, sixty-five, isn’t holding his breath. According to the long-time local restaurateur (he opened Pizza Bob’s on State Street back in 1972, among his other ventures), the city didn’t even contact him to tell him it had bought the building—he found out from a couple of secretaries who work at City Hall when they came over for lunch. And he’s not just looking for help finding a new location—he wants the city to help cover the cost of moving. To find a new place and move the business, he says, would cost $125,000, plus $30,000 in lost revenue. “When I told them, they said, ‘No, we can’t do that.'”
Now Seaver’s hoping his customers can help out. He’s asking for donations from $50 to $5,000. “For $250, you’ll get a bottle of our national award-winning salsa delivered once a week for a year,” he says. “For $5,000, we’ll work out payments to pay you back.” Seaver says he’s already raised over $20,000.
Meanwhile, Seaver still has three months to find a new place. “If we haven’t moved before then, [they’ll be] taking my wife and I out of here in handcuffs because we’re not going to go for free. We’re going to embarrass the city as much as we can.”
Tios, 333 E. Huron, 761–6650. Daily 10 a.m.–1 a.m.