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Here's why Rio City Cafe's deck closed in Old Sacramento and what's next

City of Sacramento can't afford to fix Rio City Cafe deck
City of Sacramento can't afford to fix Rio City Cafe deck 02:50

SACRAMENTO — Despite the City of Sacramento's plan to prioritize revamping its riverfront, the city's budget deficit is so bad that it can't even keep an existing deck over the river open because it can't find funding to fix it.

The city just closed Rio City Cafe's deck that sits on the Sacramento River. Now, the restaurant's financial future is suddenly in doubt.

Jimmy Gayaldo is a Rio City Cafe co-owner.

"[It's] crushing, heartbreaking," Gayaldo said.

The restaurant's deck equals dollars, and its closure is costing the business big time.

"Without having my decks, I'm down 50% in sales from what I would be doing last year at this time," Gayaldo said.

The city owns the property and is in charge of maintaining it.

"They are our landlord," Gayaldo said.

Only, a recent city inspection found the deck unsafe. The city closed it and said it didn't have money to fix it.

That's leaving Rio City Cafe with 120 fewer tables to serve.

Sacramento's budget problems include repair work it can't afford to fix. It has $223 million in unfunded deferred maintenance this year alone.

The Rio City Cafe deck repair is listed as unfunded deferred maintenance with a $3.8 million price tag.

Mayor Darryl Steinberg's vision to revitalize the waterfront has been a theme of his two terms in office. He's held several events showcasing plans for the future of the area including renderings with promises of a fun new space.

One of the mayor's riverfront events included a press conference at the riverfront in 2019.

"We have talked and talked and talked about our waterfront," Steinberg said then. "You can see by those incredible drawings, we don't need any excuses. We just have to do."

Now, despite those promises, the city has no money to protect Rio City Cafe's business amenity with a million-dollar deck repair.

"They are out of compliance with the lease," Gayaldo said. "They're in breach of lease right now."

It's leaving the restaurant owners seeking their own seven-digit solution.

"That's the million-dollar question right now. We're trying to figure out how long we can sustain this," Gayaldo said.

Gayaldo said Rio City Cafe has already laid off 20 staff because their revenue was cut in half from the loss of the deck.

CBS13 did reach out to the mayor for an interview. His spokesperson said he was unavailable.

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