By Tom Hubka
Wescom Wire Service
BROOKINGS On the eve of winning favorite hamburger and food server and tying for favorite lunch in The Daily Triplicate's 2007 Readers' Choice Awards, Fely's Cafe has been asked to leave the Port of Brookings Harbor after falling behind on rent payments.
Fely Johnson, of Fely's Cafe, said she received a letter from the port via U.S. Postal Service this week that notified her she would have to move her business by March 1.
"This is the first and last notice," she said. "I never received any word that this was going to happen. I don't know what to do, what to say."
Fely's Cafe is located in the middle of the Beachfront R.V. Park, which is owned by the port.
Business has been slower than usual this winter, Johnson said. She also lost a significant number of customers when the people living permanently at the port's RV park left when the port raised rates last year.
"The permanent people in the back row (of the RV park) paid my rent," she said. "Now they're gone."
Johnson said that she has had trouble paying the rent in the past, but had always been able to work something out with the port.
On Tuesday, Port Executive Director Dave Scott said the cafe is in noncompliance with its contract with the port, but he would not name specific violations. Johnson has also been behind on property taxes, he said.
Scott said he was meeting with an attorney early today to discuss the matter.
Longtime customers of the 14-year-old cafe are already reacting to the news.
"That'd be a big loss for the area," said William Richmond, of Gold Beach. He and his wife Terri have been eating at Fely's for several years.
"When businesses fail, the whole community fails," he said. "Anytime you have something like that, that helps the community, it's a shame to see it go under."
John Arrijuria, in an e-mail to the Curry Coastal Pilot, said Johnson should have an opportunity to "pay up her rent and continue serving the community."
"To lose this little iconic restaurant, would seem to be a loss for the whole area," he wrote. "I hope that the many friends Fely has made will come forward and support a petition to save Fely's!"
Wescom Wire Service editor Scott Graves contributed to this story.