The patio at Skog’s restaurant in Oakland has been closed by Douglas County building officials because the owners did not obtain the required permits for the space.
Like all restaurants in the county, Skog’s, located at 115 Locust St., Oakland, has been forbidden to serve customers indoors for the last three weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions. In response to that, owners Vince and Katrina Gaeta had recently set the patio up for outdoor dining.
The patio features about a dozen tables, overhead coverage, lighting and heat lamps. There is also a koi pond. Business was brisk over the weekend, with every table full and a wait to get in on Sunday, Vince Gaeta said.
“It was unbelievable, the place was full on Saturday,” he said. “Sunday was also packed. People were sitting on the patio waiting for us before we opened.”
However, on Monday, the county posted a red-tag notice at the restaurant notifying the owners and customers of the shutdown. It said: “Stop all work and use of this structure at once and contact Douglas County building department within 10 days of this notice.”
The following day the Gaetas let their customers know about the shut-down with a posting on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “It was fun while it lasted ... in case you forgot how beautiful our outdoor covered patio looked over the weekend! Douglas County Building Department wasn’t as impressed as everyone else and shut down the entire patio ... with this lovely red notice! Closed Temporarily but will keep you posted...”
Gaeta said initially the patio had canvas overhead, but when it rained, customers got soaked, so he had tin roofing put in last week. That’s when he ran afoul of building officials, he said.
“I didn’t realize that as soon as you put the tin roof on it became a structure. I was just trying to provide a comfortable space for people to sit outside,” Gaeta said.
“We were having so much fun for about two minutes. I didn’t feel like we were putting anybody’s life in jeopardy.”
Gaeta said he has had the tin roof removed and he is contemplating his next step. He said ideally he will be able to reopen for indoor dining soon.
Douglas County spokesperson Tamara Howell said the restaurant did not put in for planning approval with the City of Oakland or building permits from the county, both of which are required for this type of structure.
Once the county was notified of the work on the patio, a compliance officer went to the site and issued the stop-work order, Howell said. The county is working with the City of Oakland and the restaurant owners to try and resolve the issue, she said.
“Douglas County building department officials are doing their due diligence in order to protect the health and safety of our citizens. Additionally, we are more than willing to help the business owner to make this right,” Howell said. “Without proper building codes in place, there is no way the public can be assured of occupying a space safely. Proper permitting addresses compliance with things like engineering and structural integrity requirements, fire safety codes, accessibility codes, seismic design standards and wind-bracing requirements and proper sanitation codes.”
Many people know Skog’s as the site of the old Tolly’s restaurant.
The Gaetas bought the old Tolly’s last year. Tolly’s, which dated back some 50 years and was housed in a building more than 100 years old, had been vacant since closing in November 2019.
The restaurant actually consists of two buildings totaling about 5,800 square feet. The courtyard in question is behind the restaurant and connects to Turkey Hall, a 6,000 square foot event center catty-corner to Skog’s that the Gaetas also bought and renovated.
Turkey Hall should be ready to open next month, Vince Gaeta said.