Business

Famous Pismo Beach taffy shop to move after 20 years. Owner says rent is too high

Get a first look at the newly renovated Pismo Beach Pier

Take an aerial tour of the newly renovated Pismo Beach Pier before it opens to the public on Saturday for the Clam Festival. It closed in March 2017 as part of an $8.7 million overhaul of the aging structure.
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Take an aerial tour of the newly renovated Pismo Beach Pier before it opens to the public on Saturday for the Clam Festival. It closed in March 2017 as part of an $8.7 million overhaul of the aging structure.

Tomasko’s Salt Water Taffy has occupied a prominent spot at the corner of Dolliver Street and Pomeroy Avenue for 20 years, acting as a gateway into the downtown pier area for thousands of visitors and locals alike.

That will change in June.

The landmark candy and souvenir shop is moving a few streets over to 630 Cypress Ave., the former home of Wheel Fun Bike Rentals, because its lease was up at its current location, owner Roger Tomasko told The Tribune in a phone interview Tuesday.

Tomasko said when it came time to renegotiate a lease, the building’s landlord asked for a $5,500 per month increase in the business’s rent — “which is ridiculous,” he added.

“It’s a problem in San Luis Obispo on Higuera (Street), too,” Tomasko said. “Rents are too high.”

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Tomasko, who has been making and selling candy in Pismo Beach since 1988, added that he’s concerned about the future of other long-time businesses in that area, such as the nearby Pismo Bowl bowling alley, if rents continue to increase.

“There’s going to be trouble brewing downtown,” said Tomasko, who opened Tomasko’s Salt Water Taffy on Dolliver Street in 1999.

The business’s last day in its current location will likely be Memorial Day, May 27, Tomasko said. He hopes to open fully at the new location by mid-to-late June.

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Tomasko’s Salt Water Taffy representatives told San Luis Obispo County health inspectors the business is closing within six months. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

According to Tomasko, the new Cypress Street space will be significantly smaller than the previous location — 1,300 square feet compared with 4,000 square feet.

But the business will continue to sell all the items it already offers, he said, including popular candies such as chocolates and fudge as well as t-shirts, hats, toys and beach supplies.

The new space is also $9,000 cheaper a month to rent, Tomasko said. (He did not disclose how much he pays for rent for either location.)

During the brief span between the closure and the new location opening, Tomasko will sell pre-made candy out of a different pop-up style shop at 500 Cypress St. That way, he said, there will be virtually no break in customers getting something to satisfy their sweet teeth.

Tomasko said he has not heard of any potential leasers for the former Tomasko’s space.

“It’s a sad situation, but there’s nothing we can do about,” he said. “We are just going to get our stuff out of here and get on with it.”

Tomasko added that he’s not worried about losing customers in the move.

“They’ll find me,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been here for 31 years.”

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.
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