Subscribed to Simone on Sunset's e-newsletter? If so, you probably received the following email announcing the wine bar's closing for the year last Tuesday, December 9:
Thank you for an awesome 4 years with Simone.
We are excited to announce that we will be closing tonight due to new owner. Please come in tonight and say hi to everyone for the holidays.
New expected reopen for SIMONE ON SUNSET will be January 2015!
It appeared as if the Rice Village wine bar was closing early for the holidays and would reopen next year. The mention of closing due to a new owner and a private event that evening, didn't make much sense either. A day prior, Simone on Sunset updated its social media accounts with this message:
So what gives? Is the wine bar opening or is it closing? A lock-out notice noticed by Culturemap alludes to the latter. Despite Kristen Powell, owner of Simone on Sunset, telling the digital publication that "Simone was doing well financially," landlord Fred Sharifi tells a different story, one that involves alleged non-payment of rent.
Powell denies Sharifi's accusations instead insisting that she's always paid the rent owed, admittedly late at times. Still, Powell tells CultureMap the landlord has had it out for her all along. According to the former owner, the two have had fallout after fallout throughout the four years Simone on Sunset has been in existence, but a recent move to put the TABC license in her name may have caused things to come to a head. "I made many offers to buy them out and pay them for their original investment. That was just not what they were into. They wanted the name and the access to free stuff and all the fun stuff without the responsibility," Powell explains to CultureMap.
Powell accuses Sharifi of locking her out before the allotted 15 day grace period for late payment, a possible lease violation on Sharifi's part. Despite the lock-out, Powell plans to move forward and is looking for a new location.
It appears to be an ugly dispute, where no comes out a winner except nearby wine bar Bacco Tecca (5010 Dincans) from Ray Memari and Velio DePlano of Antica Osteria Italian Restaurant. The hidden Italian wine bar and lounge quietly opened in September in a building that once housed an animal clinic. Outfitted with tables Memari upcycled using reclaimed wood disposed from the Hanover apartment construction across the street and a bigger patio than Simone's, Rice Village may have a new favorite wine bar in its midst.