AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The owners of Takosushi in Surrey Center have questions about the city’s decision to make them take down their patio right before their busiest week of the year.
The restaurant finished clearing away the patio on Friday. Its co-owner said what they’re most frustrated about is the timing, and lack of clear answers.
“We just feel like this is selective enforcement of the codes in order to achieve a goal, and we don’t understand why we’re being targeted in this instance,” said James Williams, the co-owner of Takosushi. “Particularly the week before Masters comes, and the whole world comes to Augusta and we were so looking forward to putting our best foot forward.”
Augusta District 7 Commissioner Sean Frantom said the business isn’t being targeted – they just want to ensure safety.
“If something was to tragically happen there this week, what kind of conscience would I feel that we just turned our head and let them do what they want to do without going through the proper channels?” Frantom said. “Frankly, we’re gonna be watching all of it. We’re out of COVID now and we going to be looking at all of it. We’re not just focusing on one business.”
Frantom says the patio violated city ordinances – such as not having a permit for the patio, fire hazards, serving alcohol off-premises and others.
“Hopefully after the Masters we can have conversations to make sure we can be proactive of getting the ordinance changed on the sidewalk,” Frantom said. “As well as seeing if a structure can even go there, through the proper channels to make it fair for everybody.”
The co-owner says they have tried to fix these issues and gain clarity on the situation, but have gotten minimal feedback from the city’s code enforcement division.
He also says the patio area wasn’t a permanent structure and they had permission from the landlord to put it on the lease.
“It’s hard to explain because it’s hard to understand,” Williams said. “We have been passed around to almost a dozen different officials from the city, and until today, have been given no formal explanation, no written communication explaining what were doing wrong and how to remedy it in a meaningful way.”
Neighboring businesses and frequent customers at the restaurant just want this to be settled soon so it doesn’t impact business.
“I have enjoyed the patio, I think they did a beautiful job putting it out here,” said Shannon Burton, a Takosushi regular customer and the owner of Elements salon beside it. “I’m very sad to see it go, and it’s just a great restaurant in a great area of town. So, I really hope they can work it out.”
Frantom said they will have permission to serve customers on the sidewalk during the Masters, and both parties tell us they want to move forward.