Mission Inn owner to buy Simple Simon’s building

Mission Inn owner to buy Simple Simon’s building

The city is selling the multi-tenant property that houses sandwich spot Simple Simon’s to Duane Roberts.

Popular Riverside restaurant Simple Simon’s and other shops in a building on the Main Street mall across from the Mission Inn are about to get a new landlord: inn owner Duane Roberts.

The city, which now owns the building at Sixth and Main streets, got three bids and deemed Roberts’ offer the best, partly because his flagship business, the iconic inn, is so close by, city officials said.

The city wouldn’t disclose the sale price because the deal hasn’t been signed. Roberts did not return calls for comment Wednesday and Thursday.

Roberts didn’t tell the city how he would use the building, but existing leases would be honored, according to city officials. Tenants include the Community Foundation and several other nonprofit groups, a spa, a flower shop and wine bar, and the Brickwood, a craft beer pub expected to open later this fall.

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Shop owners and others said they’ve heard Roberts may want to move the Mission Inn Museum from its corner of the inn to the new building, but Mission Inn Foundation Executive Director Steve Spiller said he hasn’t been told anything about relocating. The foundation runs the museum.

Riverside bought the building and a parking lot behind it in 2009 through the former redevelopment agency, deputy community development director Emilio Ramirez said.

It inherited some tenants, like Simple Simon’s, which owner Mark Rubin said has been in its space for 33 years. He was hoping another tenant would take over ownership of the building, he said, but he’s been through landlord changes before and has 10 years left on his lease, so Simple Simon’s “will be here for a long time.”

Others are new to the scene, like the Brickwood, which will serve locally brewed craft beers and ciders and Temecula wines. Owner Brad McCauley and co-founder Vince Pileggi, along with other investors, had put in a bid on the building, but they said they think things will work out fine with Roberts as the owner.

The sale of the building is part of City Manager John Russo’s push to sell some city-owned properties that don’t have a public purpose.

Councilman Mike Gardner, who represents downtown, said the third bidder – in addition to Roberts and the Brickwood’s operators – was an international investor, but city officials wanted an owner closer to home.

“I think it makes sense for the Mission Inn to control that block because that ensures that somewhere down the road a use that would be disruptive to the hotel doesn’t go there,” he said.

The sale must still be approved by the Riverside City Council.

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