Polly’s on the Pier in Redondo Beach survived a storm in 1988, a move from its idyllic spot on the old sport fishing pier to the International Boardwalk in early 2018, and the death of beloved co-owner JoAnn Turk in February 2019.
But, like most eateries in the South Bay, the popular breakfast joint is now struggling to overcome the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
Owner Terry Turk said he is seeking an investor or a buyer to help Polly’s continue cooking up platters of eggs and bacon, and, hopefully carry on its name and tradition.
Turk said though he has a year and a half left on his lease, he’s given the city the required six-month notice to vacate.
“I wrote (the city) a letter of my intentions hopefully to get an investor or find a buyer,” said Turk. “So those are the two avenues I’m seeking.”
Stephen Proud, waterfront and economic development director for Redondo Beach, said the city expected Polly’s to enter into negotiations to move back to the sport fishing pier when it was rebuilt.
But plans stalled when the pandemic hit.
“That’s a large part because we haven’t really finished the community outreach and design process for the sport fishing pier,” Proud said.
Typically a lessee would be obligated for the length of the lease term, but Proud said there might be a provision in Polly’s lease that “would allow either party to terminate the lease with the six month notice.”
“Originally, we agreed to allow him to defer his rent for a period of time in hopes that (it) might help him with his cash flow situation,” Proud added.
Currently, Turk said, the “city has postponed any payments.”
Turk said after six months, he can walk away and the city will have to find a buyer or someone to take over the business.
"Now if I find a buyer," said Turk, "I can get out within a shorter period of time.”
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In late 2017, while Redondo Beach debated the fate of the dilapidated sport fishing pier, it found a way to relocate Polly’s. Redondo Beach Sport Fishing and Whale Watch had already moved to a storefront on International Boardwalk, so it was a natural fit. It was time for the popular breakfast and lunch spot to find a new home.
After the Redondo Beach City Council approved a $80,000 buyout of the Corner Pub restaurant on the boardwalk, Polly’s moved into that location.
But, said Turk, the boardwalk location has impacted business negatively, even before the pandemic.
“It was really location, location location,” said Turk of the original Polly’s location on the pier. “So the city was kind enough to find this location down on the boardwalk.”
In its heyday at the old pier location, Polly’s had four outside tables that could seat up to 20. And, there was seating inside for 40-plus people, said Turk.
“Now I’m very concerned about Polly’s because if they continue reducing the seating to 50 percent, nobody can make a go of it at Polly’s,” Turk said of the social distancing requirements restaurants will likely have to put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We only seat about 50 people,” he said. “So down to 25 people would not work.”
Turk said he always hoped to move back to the pier, but for now it’s “just a dream.”
“I’m always optimistic,” said Turk about keeping Polly’s open, no matter the location. “It’s a very popular place.”