Mike and Gayle’s Restaurant Closing after 33 Years as Benicia Fixture

Despite healthy sales, high rent at center ultimately led to decision to shut the doors.

After 33 years in the restaurant business in Benicia, Mike and Gayle Ioakimedes are shutting the doors to their popular Southampton Center eatery.  They plan to serve their last meal on September 3.

“Despite this sudden announcement, this was not a hasty decision,” said Mike Ioakimedes in a release sent out Thursday afternoon.  “My wife, Gayle, and I have been in negotiations with our landlords for almost a year, but ultimately did not reach an agreement that would work for both parties.”

The restaurant opened in its current location in 2010 after being closed for a year.  The restaurant  was in the Tannery Building prior to opening in Southampton Center.

“Business is good—in fact, we’re on track to have one of our best years ever—but not good enough to afford the rent in our current location, which is more than double what we’ve paid at any of our previous locations,” said Ioakimedes.

The original location of Mike and Gayle’s was the Washington House in the space now occupied by Kinder’s.  The restaurant moved to the Tannery building  but lost that space in 2009 when new owners took possession of the building.

When the couple reopened the restaurant in 2010 old customers continued to support the business. “Although we thought maintaining our current market share after being closed for 12 months would be the most difficult part of the plan, from our opening day at this location in February of 2010, our regulars returned and welcomed us back with open arms, said Ioakimedes. “Business continued to grow, thanks to our old regulars and new regulars, too. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough to make doing business in this location feasible in the long term.”

The couple will miss their customers who have supported them over the years. “Whether we were at Mike & Gayle’s, The Shoreline, Pop’s, or Washington House, we’ve never had a customer base—we’ve had a restaurant community, and saying good-bye to that community is going to be the toughest part of closing,” said Ioakimedes.

Ioakimedes closed by saying, “We’d like to thank each and every member of Mike & Gayle’s community for your years of support, patience, and loyalty.  You made what many think of as a tough business a joy.”


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Linda Lou August 18, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Bobby, you DO tend to make inappropriate comments all the time and you know it. Please, please get spell check. "Venergerett" sauce?? Vinaigrette, my friend. There is even spell check on these comments, if it is underlined in red: PAY ATTENTION!
"The Black Panther of Poetry" August 18, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Don't hate the player....Hate the game!!!
Scott Burford August 18, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Robert, I disagree, I dont think you want Bobby to be stopped. If you really wanted him to stop ranting, you would simply stop responding to his comments. Yet you continue to engage him. In a strange way, I think you actually like Bobby!!
Robert Livesay August 18, 2012 at 03:57 AM
RJ Mike and Gayle are goods folks.l Please lay off comments like that. How about putting up the $100.00 for their future place on First Street. As far as Bobbie goes who really cares. We engage him so he will continue to show his racist remarks and his continued effort to get his help line elected President again. Believe me Bobbie is ot at all paid any attention to. But believe me Mike and Gayle are.
Babaloo August 18, 2012 at 04:33 AM
so robert. my mortgage is 3500 a month..i choose not to go to work. or make any effort at work so i don't have enough to make my mortgage payment. So,,can you give me 3500 a month becasue i don't want to improve my work habits or to make things better or to manage my finances so i can pay ( maintain my business) ? POINT. 1 bad service, has nothing to do with good or bad people. i am sure they are wonderful people who have had a bit of bad luck or beliefs that they can maintain x amount of sales to break even, and x+1 to make a profit. simple algebra..basic math. if you need to make 1000 to pay the rent you really need to sell x amount of meals per day. well you have many factors that affect sales. 1 economy..it is expensive to go to breakfast every day. 2. sad faces. if people don't like their job, those frowns are directly shown to the customers... 3 poor service.... why continue to go somewhere when you don't get what you ordered ? your drinks don't get refilled. you wait for cold food ? i have experianced all while eating there. 4 you have to cultivate your business, plant a seed watch it grow..or plant a seed, and luv it, help it, talk to it, read to it... 5 i don't know,,but alot of businesses in Benicia are left to be run by "managers". some are wonderful. others ? have no clue.
Babaloo August 18, 2012 at 04:36 AM
the owner comes in to pick up receipts , cash and look around then leave to go golfing, or to have lunch ( not in their establishment) or have other things to do. instead of run their business. 6 i own my own business. OBOMMA had nothing to do with it. last 20 years, blood, sweat and tears. every day 10-12 hours, weekends even there. but it is "MY BUSINESS" and i am there. it represents me, and i represent it. we are one. if i succeed, my business succeeds and vice versa. so when my guy is "late" or does not show up. it is a reflection on me. so if they are going to be late, they check in and i go myself or i send someone else till they can get there. my customer will not be deprived of service or will not be delayed. their time is valuable as is mine, that is why NO CASH / CHECK / MONEY ORDER...no service. we deliver. so don't cry when you entered into an agreement and then "couldn't pay rent"..when you knew it was high. you make the rent. you do what you have to do.....sorry to hear they are closing..but maybe it's a wake up call...
Summersole August 18, 2012 at 05:21 AM
excellent retort Babaloo
RJ Stewart August 18, 2012 at 02:44 PM
"bert said, ". . please lay off comments like that." 'Bert please be specific, what comment(s) did I make that offended you (the proxy for Mike and Gayle)? Mike and Gayle's restaurant is located in an ideal spot for the southampton community but for some reason (other than the anticipated high rent) they couldn't succeed. There is no disgrace in an unsuccessful try. But because they are "nice people" you want to prove Obama right - one can't build a successful business on your own. If Mike and Gayle didn't earn the $100 why would I give it to them. Isn't that similar to general assistance (GA)?
Scott Burford August 18, 2012 at 03:04 PM
The idea to contribute $100 doesn't really make sense, but if it had been proposed as a "buy in" or an investment in a new venture, then that makes more sense to me. A restaurant that is owned by members of the community....They could elect a board of directors to make the business decisions, etc. MIke and Gayle would have the option of running the operation and contributing their "brand", or not. Just my $0.02. Let's leave Obama and politics out of this discussion.
Robert Livesay August 18, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Stew my comment was directed at who every it may apply to. Should be easy to figure out. I new the local Liberals would come back with negative comments. They are all talk and no action. Have you Liberals come up with an idea. As you always talk stay local and buy local. I just happen to support local folks and had an idea. Now all you nay sayers come up with an idea instead of always being negative. Your turn commenters. Fire away.
RJ Stewart August 18, 2012 at 06:52 PM
'Bert, I was born at night . . but not last night. You made statements directed at me, "RJ Mike and Gayle are goods folks.l Please lay off comments like that." Now you obfuscate rather than answer my question. But let's not quibble, let's agree that you had an idea. You probably didn't check with Mike and Gayle but you had an idea.
Robert Livesay August 18, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Stew you are correct that one comment was directed at you. I just felt it was not necessary under theses difficult times. Your statement may have merit or it may not. I have always felt you support folks that are doing there best and at least had the courage to try and make it work in very difficult times. Others may not have wanted to give it a go. I have had stores in shopping centers so I do know the issues. . The best business plan at times may not work. Having a business is work and plenty of it. Many times the rewards are just not there. I give lots of credit to folks that are willing to give it a go. Mike and Gayle did give it a go for 33 years. Not a bad record. So my hat goes off to them. I do believe they understand my idea.
Peg Jackson August 18, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Mike & Gayles has been one of our favorite restaurants in Benicia. We always received friendly service and good food. They happily made substitutions to accommodate our low-carb diet. If giving $100 would help keep the restaurant going, I will happily do so. Robert, put me on your list. I'd love to see Mike & Gayles back on First Street.
Robert Livesay August 19, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Now Stew as you see my idea is starting to get attentio\n. Now why not all you commentors pony up the hundred. We can very easly set up an account. I do believe JB would be a very willing helping hand. I love this. See how easy it is to just make nice comments and at the same time be a very willing person to be part of a growing indever.; This is Benicia at its best, lets all join in. Thank you very much for excepting my idea.
RJ Stewart August 19, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Count me out 'Bert. Just because Mike and Gayle may be nice people doesn't warrant an investment/gift/aid in their, after 33 years of success, now failing business. It seems to me they've had a great run. Except for the lack of exposure to tourists Mike and Gayle had a great location. For some reason, which they should know, they couldn't generate sufficient revenue. I'm guessing most of their expenses were fixed or semi-fixed but above all anticipated. BTW - there are 3 $100 offers out of 16 individual posters (so far). That equates to approximately 19% willing to donate $100 without knowing Mike and Gayles' wishes.
Robert Livesay August 19, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Stew I do believe I said 2,000 folks to be part of this idea. 19% is a very good number considering that there are about 28,000 residents and maybe 18,000 adults able to contribute. So Stew as you can see by percentage only asking 11% makes 19% a big win Stew. Remember Stew you were never in so saying you are out is meaningless. It still is a good idea.
RJ Stewart August 19, 2012 at 02:52 PM
'Bert, I would agree with you about your chance of getting 2,000 folk to grant $100 each to a now failing restuarant business but then, alas, we'd both be wrong.
T. Gunter August 19, 2012 at 04:26 PM
It is glaringly obvious to me that whatever Mike and Gayle's had going for it on 1st Street (my wife and I had breakfast there frequently), it failed to be a factor when they reopened in the South Hampton Center (two visits was all it took to be dismayed). Generally speaking, trying to reproduce previous successes often goes awry. As an aside, I am still having a hard time understanding why Benicia restaurants suffer from such mediocrity. It is as if Benicia is the location where gastronomy goes in order to suffer a horrible death.
Robert Livesay August 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
T I do know you like Char's hot dogs. I find nothing wrong with Benicia restaurants. The only thing missing is a trade up, like Flemmings etc. . Will the folks in town pay the price? I love Sailor Jacks hamburger.
T. Gunter August 19, 2012 at 06:18 PM
RL - Char's? They are also mediocre as hot dogs go (try Rosamunde Sausage Grill, Moishe's Pippic, or even Top Dog for comparison). I'm glad you find nothing wrong with Benicia's restaurants. You are allowed to hold that opinion However, we obviously have different standards when it comes to the culinary expertise of local restauranteurs.
Robert Livesay August 19, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Well T did you ever have a Fenton Mole hot dog? Best ever was Chris later to be named Johns in Oakland on Broadway. Way before you were born and had the expierence to tell the difference. Chars is a special type of hot dog from a special vendor. That is what makes a so called ordinary dog much better. Chars has that snap that Chris and Johns had. Much different and does not take a lot of over topping to make it so good. Ever had a Five Guys burger, not bad. I have eaten all over the world and I may not have the same taste as you T. But believe me I do know a good breakfast when I eat it. Mike and Gayles when on First Street was top dog in my opinion. We will all try to get them back on First Street. Join in T.
T. Gunter August 19, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Really RL - an obscure baseball reference? It would not be the first time. Have you ever owned a replica Franz Beckenbauer trikot? Again you are allowed to hold your opinion. As far as bringing age and experience into the equation, it is relatively inconsequential. Do you know for a fact that you have traveled the country, or the world, more than I? Have you ever eaten tacacá, or gruenkohl with pinkel? Those that have not, have truly not lived life to the fullest. Have you ever been involved in any facet of charcuterie ? Again, we obviously differ in opinion and hold different standards when it comes to the culinary expertise of local restauranteurs. It's not really worth the my-dog-is-bigger-than-your-dog exchange. I think you would agree.
Jamie Lee August 19, 2012 at 07:23 PM
I'll miss Mike and Gayles. ... and Amanda, our favorite server (she rawks!, not that she is the only awesome server there! :D )... Stupidity on my part, I never thought to ask... you can order 1/2 orders. Their loaded/cream of mushroom soup, I will seriously miss it. We know of an affordable location, and hoped they would consider it. I think they are just at a point where they have put everything they have physically, emotionally and financially in to their restaurant(s), and it wasn't enough. They knew the likely outcome of taking a risk in the Southampton shopping center, and gave all they had, not giving up. The last thing they expected was for the landlords to double their rent. They can't just move over and over again, renovating and updating as they go, every time the cost is beyond what they make. I have lived in Benicia for 28 years, basically before the Shopping center was much more than an empty lot and Raley's. The list is enourmous of businesses that have come and gone in that center. The owners of the Shopping center get to write off the vacant spaces as a tax write off, which is more profitable to them than keeping the tenants spaces rented. The more you support business that DON't support your community, county and State in the products and services they offer) the quicker you don't have much of anything in your community. We have STUPID stamped on our foreheads.
Robert Livesay August 19, 2012 at 08:14 PM
T I do know you like to have fun. I just brought it out. What is wrong with that. Fenton Mole did have a stand when he played in the PCL. Hit a home run over the left field fence into his stand. .
Riley Willerson August 19, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Wow, now you are really acting like an "ass" you stated your threats very clearly. anyway, once again Boobie is rerouting the topic. is not about republicans or democrats, or what bush diid or what obama didn't do, its about a local company closing shop, hard times for many period. Best to you Mike.
Riley Willerson August 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Robert, please at times you become the white Bobbie, not racist as in color of one mans skin (Bobbie), racist as in political affiliation. Be smart, don't take the bait, although I like your idea of $100, but hard times are on us, 8 years of Bush and 4 years of Obama make it a stretch for many, just saying..
Vivian M. Salas August 20, 2012 at 03:32 AM
What is venergerettes sauce and Rhy Bread??
Lee Ann Teasdale August 20, 2012 at 04:23 AM
I have worked for Mike and Gayle's for 15 years now. I know them to be honest and good people. They are the very definition of integrity. Their goal has always been to offer fresh food, cooked fresh, and with care. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...If heaven does not smell like Gayle's kitchen- then I'm out! This is a sad state of affairs. I will miss them, and I wish them all the best.
Linda Lou August 20, 2012 at 09:00 AM
Vivian, I will repeat my answer to Bobby: Please, please get spell check. "Venergeretts" sauce?? Vinaigrette, my friend - not a sauce either, incidentally. And rye bread. There is even spell check on these comments, if it is underlined in red: PAY ATTENTION!
Beate Brühl August 25, 2012 at 06:23 AM
The silver lining of all the closures at South Hampton is that it has enlivend DOWNTOWN. ABC Music, and the book store have been a really interesting addition.


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