Clearwater found itself in a pickle.
The cost to get out of it ended up being $688,000. That is part of the settlement city officials came to after mediation talks with Pickles Plus Too deli started in June.
The city council unanimously approved the settlement at its meeting Thursday.
The newly approved settlement agreement will include the costly settlement and also require Kim and Joe Bernadetti, sibling owners of the deli, to move by March 1.
If the business does not vacate by that deadline, it will face $1,000 fine for each day it remains.
The payout will be divided into two payments with $30,000 being reserved for after the deli moves.
The beef between and the city began in 2009 when Steinmart, a discount department store, moved out of the waterfront Haborview Center.
Following the move, the city faced $60,000 in yearly maintenance to keep the large facility running, and the deli’s presence kept the city from making any changes to the building.
The city recommended moving to another location, but the Bernadettis refused, claiming that a move was too costly and would cause them to lose longtime clientele.
That’s when the trouble started.
Pickles Plus Too claimed the city was harassing the business. The deli owners cited a number of reasons they felt the city was bullying them into moving, including encouraging local homeless people to loiter near their door.
The city did not substantiate those claims; however, they did see fit to award the business with a hefty settlement.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Mayor Frank Hibbard said. “It’s good for Pickles, and it’s good for the city.”
The settlement will save the city some money, but not enough to offset the $688,000 payout. Based on the $60,000 in annual expenses on the Haborview Center and a remaining lease of slightly more than eight years for Pickles Plus Too, the city would have spent about $500,000 in upkeep on the mostly empty building.
The money to pay for the settlement will come from the city’s reserve funds.
“This is the last thing I want to spend my money on,” council member Bill Jonson said. “But it is appropriate to move forward.”
Pickles Plus Too patrons may also find themselves out of luck for an evening bite. The deli owners requested, and the city approved, that they be allowed to determine their own hours of operation. The current lease required them to stay open until 7 p.m. What their new hours will be remains uncertain.
Calls to the Bernadettis and other deli officials were not returned.