Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Founders of California Family Fitness sell $100 million in real estate

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 10:26 am

Larry Gury would rather not be telling me that he and his partner, Russ Kuhn, sold 10 buildings from their retail portfolio for $98.8 million, but the sale was made to a publicly traded company and so it was disclosed to investors.

"We've always been under the radar," Gury said. "We like that. We're very simple. … This one (sale) here was kind of a struggle. I knew when this thing closed, when the recording showed up, that this was going to create some activity."

Escondido-based Realty Income Inc. acquired the properties from Gury and Kuhn, two local businessmen who gave birth to the California Family Fitness chain back in 1994 and sold it in 2006.

Although they sold the fitness business to Bunker Hill Capital Group, they maintained ownership of the buildings that were home to California Family Fitness centers. Their Roseville-based Fit Development company also owns office buildings, raw land, a housing subdivision and other property in California, Texas and Idaho.

They initially planned to use money from the sale of the fitness business to acquire other real estate, but the real estate market took a nose dive soon afterward.

"When the economy changed," Gury said, "we stopped buying everything and we took the money and we paid down debt. We paid off five of the clubs, so we owned them free and clear."

Recently, though, Gury and Kuhn have noted a change in the real estate market. They've got their eye on $130 million worth of real estate in the Western region, and this sale can help them acquire it. At the same time, real-estate investment trusts such as Realty Income are looking for properties with strong tenants who can provide steady income to their investors.

As a former parks and recreation director, Gury never expected to get into the real estate game, but he and Kuhn thought it would be smart to own their buildings. They continue to serve as strategic consultants to California Family Fitness, and they've acquired some land with the idea of building future sites for the club.

Simon's gets makeover

Political fortunes rise and fall, but no matter what, California governors, senators and Assembly members still gotta eat. Dozens of them have done so at Simon's Bar & Cafe, and snapshots of them and their staff members nearly fill three walls at the restaurant.

It's now much easier to see them, as owner Simon Chan has taken the bars off the windows to let more light into the restaurant. The wood gleams and the photos stand out. A fresh coat of paint also helps to set them off. Walls that were once orange and black are now bluish-green.

"We got new lighting, new tables, new chairs," said Chan, who closed his restaurant in early July to give it a makeover. "We've redone the bathroom and the tile."

Simon's has been in the same location, 1415 16th St. in midtown Sacramento, for 30 years. Chan, a Hong Kong native, launched his restaurant after working at Frank Fat's on L Street for more than 10 years.

When he opened, 16th Street was a common stroll for working girls, but now it's home to some of the region's hottest restaurants – Firestone Public House, Bento Box, Sapporo Grill and Mikuni. Chan is sprucing up to compete. He's also added a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. and is serving $5 small plates from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Gone, baby, gone

Kira O'Donnell brought 50 pies to sell at East Sacramento Mercantile. Let's just say, she way underestimated Sacramento's appetite for the return of her Real Pie Co.

"I got there at 2:15 p.m., but the Mercantile folks said people started lining up at 12:30," she said. "Very touching."

O'Donnell sold out in 15 minutes. Sorry, Sacramento, O'Donnell doesn't take orders. If you want her pie, you'll have to get there early and bring cash, as she isn't set up for credit cards.

O'Donnell closed her popular Real Pie Co. several years ago to focus on family. She's making a limited comeback, selling her pies on Thursdays and Fridays from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at East Sac Mercantile, 3257 Folsom Blvd., in Sacramento

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/anderson. Follow her on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.

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