Street work near Sobrato threatens Thai restaurant


Sobrato High School, Morgan Hill
’s newest school, has caused legal hassles, major headaches and
painful cost overruns. Now it may cost a nearby restaurant its
Sobrato High School, Morgan Hill’s newest school, has caused legal hassles, major headaches and painful cost overruns. Now it may cost a nearby restaurant its life.

Nicol Jeang Chan, owner of The King and I Thai restaurant, said she may have to close because even her loyal customers can’t get into the parking lot.

“They think we’re closed,” Chan said Wednesday. “People call for take-out and they can’t find their way in.”

The King and I sits squarely on the northeast corner of Monterey Road and Burnett Avenue, the same roadway that leads to Sobrato and needed to be widened to accommodate hundreds of student vehicles. Even this week when gutters and curbs are finished on Chan’s side of the street, entrance to the parking lot is rough and bumpy, an unappealing construction site. The disruption started in June and has affected Chan’s business to the point where she may have to give up.

To make matters worse, Chan said, the electricity and gas has been shut off sometimes during lunch when she needs them the most, usually without notice. And the street light was out for weeks.

“It’s dark in the parking lot at night and people couldn’t see to get to their cars,” Chan said.

She said she didn’t want to complain but finally called the city – and got no call back though the street light was eventually turned back on.

“Why didn’t they call?” Chan said, “we’re part of Morgan Hill, too.”

She was clearly emotional and near to tears when she talked about the troubles she’s been through trying to keep the restaurant open. Besides the physical obstructions and and utility shutoffs, business was affected by the noise and dust of the road work.

To add to the injury, construction trucks sometimes parked in the lot, chasing away potential customers who thought the restaurant was closed.

“It’s been going on for a long time,” she said.

Al Solis, director of construction and modernization for the school district, said he has not heard from Chan.

He did ask the contractor, O’Grady Paving, to put an “Open during construction” sign on the Monterey Road side and he just saw it there in the bushes.

Solis said he knew some businesses were affected when paving began in June but that the contractors tried to be as accommodating as possible. As far as utility outages, Solis said the construction was definitely not the cause.

Scott Creer, senior civil engineer for the city, said he was also unaware of problems with the restaurant.

“The challenge is that this is a private development (the school district),” Creer said Thursday. “We’re inspecting to make sure they meet city standards.

“The corner will be really nice when it’s finished. Let’s just hope the Sobrato kids like Thai food.”

Chan said she has been trying to sell the restaurant and even has a sale pending but is not optimistic that it will go through.

“Maybe we’ll stay if customers come back,” Chan said.

The King and I is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11:30am-2:30pm and 5-9pm, 10pm on weekends.

Carol Holzgrafe covers City Hall for The Times. She can be reached by e-mail at ch[email protected] or phoning (408) 779-4106 Ext. 201.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.