Bibo gets the boot

Paul Martin

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

The closure of a business in Reno is hardly ever news, but when word began to leak that Bibo, 680 Mt. Rose St., is closing its doors, people got excited. It's hardly rumor at this point, but here's the story from Paul Martin's point of view. Martin, over the last 10 years, built that business from nothing to one of the most thriving coffee shops in Reno.

Why is Bibo Mt. Rose moving?

That's a good question. I really don't know the reasoning for it. I do have to say that we were in the middle of positive lease negotiations. Like six months ago, we got a request for a letter of intent from the landlord. We did so. A few weeks later, we received a request for a lease proposal. We said what we would like to do is two five-year lease options, with some maintenance. We wanted to put in a new espresso machine and some more plumbing. Basically, after 10 years, the place needs a cleanup. So we were ready to invest about $20,000 or more into the store. And that was spelled out in these two five-year leases. Then things kind of went dark for a while. The next letter we received was one spelling out, you know, “Do your improvements, and I'll give you a one-year lease with some amendments.” Those were pretty difficult [requirements] to run a business with. My wife and I thought about it for a few weeks. We came back, and we said, “Let's do it.” We knew it would be a difficult year to continue on, but we just thought we were better off doing it that way. So we said, “Yes,” and the landlord, Marvin [Grulli], said, “No,” and apparently he had already been out prospecting clients, basically giving people our walk-in numbers and customer counts.

He had similar issues with another popular place, Sezmu, next door, as I recall. This sounds very similar to what happened to that restaurant.

Yeah, Larry [Dunning] was the owner of Sezmu. He and his wife owned Sezmu. I don't know the exact specifics about it, but I do know that Larry wanted to continue in that space after … I believe he had a three-year lease without an option. He was ready to move forward, and he was pretty devastated. I saw him the morning Marvin told him he wasn't going to grant a lease option on that. Then the space sat dark for two years. There's a salon next door that I don't believe takes walk-ins, and then a dark space next to us for two years, so we were basically the only foot traffic available for this space for a good chunk of time.

Have you seen the website?

Somebody just shot me a link to it. I haven't really had a good chance to look at it yet.

It’s an open letter to the people, Truckee’s Coffebar, who are apparently the ones planning to move in there. Have you come up with any possibilities for a move to stay in the Old Southwest?

We're looking at two options. We have to be out by July 1st. It's really important to us to keep our employees intact. Without a new space, we'll probably have to lay off about six or seven people. We're working to get a spot open on California Avenue by July 1st. It's a much smaller spot, so it won't have the same kind of come-down-and-hang-out, gathering place, refuge [feel] as here. It'll be a neat opportunity for us to stay alive in the old Southwest, and then we're really banging our heads around in this block to get something done within a few houses of here.

So you’ll open a place on California just to have something going to keep the employees working?

We had that spot in 50 W. Liberty. That was my mistake, I blew it on all aspects there, but it's a standalone spot, and it's within a couple of blocks of where that was. So we're kind of redoing that [Liberty] spot, and hopefully recreating the feel of our original Bibo here on Mt. Rose on Mt. Rose again.