The Santa Monica City Council approved a new lease for the 66 to Cali souvenir stand and ended months of uncertainty for owner Dan Rice, who feared he would lose his space on the Santa Monica Pier.
Rice relayed the news Friday afternoon on the 66 to Cali Facebook page.
Earlier in the month, Rice reported the pier corporation voted unanimously for the lease. Receiving final approval from the City Council remained the last hurdle.
Rice said he was told in the fall that local officials would reject his lease renewal application. At the time, he blamed politically connected competitors on the pier who shunned Route 66-related merchandise until Rice opened 66 to Cali in July 2009. Rice also led the charge to erect the popular “End of the Trail” Route 66 sign at the pier — the symbolic western end of 66.
News about Rice’s predicament led many Route 66 supporters to write city councilors and urge them to renew his lease.
Rice was traveling by air and could not be reached by phone or email. I’ll pass along more details from him when they’re available.
UPDATE: In an email early Saturday, Rice said he received a three-year deal, although it could be lengthened to five years.
Rice said letters from Route 66 enthusiasts “overwhelmed” the City Council and led at least a few city officials to investigate the situation. “It is absolutely because of the people on 66 and God above that this whole situation worked out.”
The irony is, Rice said, that the uncertainty over his stand led to more opportunities. He’s entered an agreement to potentially produce a History Channel show about heritage tourism in America. He’s also involved with a CBS-TV project about historic roads as well. “It’s fair to say that none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for our situation on the pier occurring and all the support we subsequently received from you and everyone around the world.”
Rice closed his email with these thoughts:
“Finally, I just want to say once more to everyone around the world that has written a letter, made a call, or sent an email: I send you a very deep, heartfelt thank you…for all of your support these last 6 months and even before that with the things that have happened. We will never forget the way this family came together and we are humbled by your goodness. We hope that we’ll continue to do all of you justice at the ‘End of the Trail.’ In the meantime, thanks again, God bless, and we hope to see you all on the road!”
UPDATE 2/21/2013: The Santa Monica Mirror posted a story about 66-to-Cali’s lease renewal. An interesting excerpt from the story about the city council’s action:
The staff report continued that 66 to Cali, Inc., despite other vendors also selling souvenirs items on the Pier, was uniquely placed to serve as an asset for visitors of Santa Monica’s most iconic destination.
“While there are other merchants on the Pier that sell Route 66 souvenirs, ‘66 to Cali’s’ strategy to ensure the uniqueness of its operation has been to sell higher quality products and employ staff who are exceptionally knowledgeable and eager to share information with visitors on the history of Route 66 and the Santa Monica Pier,” City staff stated in its report to council members.
(Photo of 66-to-Cali by Nacko, via Flickr)