STOCKTON - It's now cheaper than ever to buy the restaurant that Stockton leaders hoped would help revitalize downtown.
The asking price for Paragary's Bar and Grill is $299,000, down from $555,000 when it was first put up for sale in the spring. Owner Randy Paragary said Tuesday that the price had been reduced several times before it arrived at $299,000 within the past month.
"We've come up with this number as hopefully really attractive," Paragary said. "There's definitely been some interest and some tire-kicking, but nothing really serious."
He said he hasn't found a buyer yet in part because the slow economy makes it difficult to obtain a loan to purchase the restaurant.
"It's making it more or less an all-cash buyer situation," he said. "The supply of all-cash buyers is fewer than people looking for financing."
The sale price includes more than three years of free rent, which is what remains of a subsidy included in a controversial agreement used to lure the Sacramento-based restaurateur to Stockton. Under the agreement, the city spent $2.7 million to build the restaurant and promised a rent-free location for five years at the renovated Hotel Stockton. City officials hoped it would help energize downtown redevelopment efforts.
The subsidy was criticized by some local residents and activists who said the money could have been better spent elsewhere. Paragary said a boycott called for by some of those critics and the slow economy led him to decide to sell the establishment.
Stockton Mayor Ann Johnston said she believes an establishment such as a brewery that offers medium-priced fare to cinemagoers might have the best chance of succeeding in Paragary's location.
"I see it as an opportunity," Johnston said when asked about Paragary's decision to reduce his asking price for the restaurant. "It's an opportunity for a restaurateur to capture a prime location for a restaurant in downtown."
Paragary said he hopes the free rent - as well as his decision to reduce the price - will serve as an incentive to bring a new restaurant owner to the city. Paragary added that he has no plans to close the restaurant if it doesn't sell.
"We are putting 100 percent of our effort into making that restaurant successful," he said. "If it doesn't sell, we'll
continue on and do what we can, and hope business gets better."
Contact reporter Ian Hill ator firstname.lastname@example.org