Tribe purchases Oak Pit
Rustlers closing, Randy's reopening
In a form of restaurant musical chairs, two closed restaurants are reopening and another longtime restaurant is closing in Porterville
The Tule River Economic Development Corporation has purchased the Oak Pit restaurant on North Main Street that closed in May of this year.
Brent Hillen with Melson Realty in Porterville confirmed the TREDC had purchased the Main Street eatery. He said the sale closed escrow last week.
“I think it’s an exceptional deal for the tribe,” said Hillen.
Dan Hackey, spokesperson for the tribe, confirmed the purchased, but said the tribe was still working out the details as to how they will operate the restaurant. Indications are the restaurant will remain a steak and potatoes type of menu. Hackey said they should have more details in a few days.
The Oak Pit opened in December of 1979, but owners Tom and Rosemary Chester decided that three decades were long enough in the business and retired. They had tried to sell the business earlier and were unsuccessful and had it listed when they closed for good May 5.
Hillen, along with Chamber of Commerce CEO Donnette Silva-Carter, said having the steak house return is good for the community.
“I think it’s fantastic. We definitely were sad when it closed,” said Silva-Carter. “I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with it.”
Carter-Silva also reported that the Porter Street Barbecue restaurant on West Olive (formerly Randy’s) that closed last month will reopen soon under new ownership but with what is expected to be a similar menu.
Also in local restaurant news, Randy Carroll finally sold his Rustlers Restaurant near Success Lake. The last day for the restaurant is Saturday, Sept. 29.
The restaurant, which featured steak and potatoes, was one of the properties targeted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for purchase because of issues with the safety of Success Dam. Officials are now saying they do not feel the dam is unsafe, but moved ahead with the purchase of several parcels, including the restaurant and the Lakeside Trailer Park.
“After 16 years Rustlers is closing for good. The U.S. Corps of Engineers is acquiring the property. We must close,” states an advertisement in Friday’s Recorder.
Silva-Carter could not say who is opening Porter Street Barbecue on West Olive, but said people will be pleased when they do hear who the new owners are.
Hillen said having the Oak Pit reopen will “be a big boost for Porterville.” With the Olive restaurant and Rustlers closing, only the Cellar remained as a steak restaurant.
He also said they got quite a few inquiries into the Oak Pit, but nothing serious until the tribe got involved. “I’m very excited the tribe has picked it up. They’re doing something for Porterville,” he said.
Purchasing the Oak Pit is the third commercial venture by the tribe off of the reservation. It opened Eagle Feather 1 on Highway 190 several years ago and Eagle Feather 2 on Highway 41 in western Kings County earlier this year.