Will Redrum Be a Casualty of Nishi?



Recently, Jim Edlund, owner of the iconic Redrum Burger in Davis, posted that “Redrum Burger will eventually be shut down if Measure A passes.”

He said, “There have been a lot of rumors and misinformation circulating about this, some of which is being sent out directly by the Yes on Measure A campaign.”  However, he claims, “Redrum Burger acknowledges recently receiving emails about potential new lease terms, but no formal lease proposal has been received.”

He writes, “Without receiving a formal lease proposal, any declaration that there are negotiations with Redrum Burger is misleading. A formal lease proposal is the starting point of negotiations.”

He wrote, “For 2+ years Redrum Burger has tried to find a way to work with the Nishi developers to avoid the loss of our restaurant. There have been discussions about the loss of the restaurant but the Nishi developers have never made a formal lease proposal to Redrum Burger.

“The last official meeting between Redrum Burger and the Nishi Developers and the representative for the current property owner took place in December of 2015, more than 6 months ago. The Nishi Developers don’t own the property, they simply have an option to purchase in the future. The meeting resulted in no formal feedback. No letter or proposal was ever received as a result of that meeting.”

Mr. Edlund has been an opponent of Nishi from the beginning of the campaign, donating $2200 to the No on A campaign.

However, the Yes on A campaign issued a statement late yesterday countering Mr. Edlund’s contention that Redrum Burger, which began as Murder Burger before changing their name in the 1990s, will have to close.

The campaign told the Vanguard, “In these final hours before the June election, there is misinformation being floated around regarding Redrum Burger.  To be clear, the Nishi Gateway has on multiple occasions offered Redrum Burger a space at the Nishi Gateway as the property’s first tenant and at Redrum’s current rent. Redrum Burger was first approached in 2011 about the long term trajectory of the Nishi project. This is an indisputable fact. Nishi would love to house the famous ostrich burger for decades to come.”

According to them, “The Nishi Gateway offered Redrum a long term lease at its current rent. Redrum has rejected these fair terms and hasn’t even proposed an alternative. This information is not reaching Redrum’s customers, because Redrum is actively deleting comments and blocking people that correct the record.”

The campaign stated, “This public misinformation campaign is disappointing and confusing. If Yes on Measure A passes, Redrum can have a few thousand potential new customers, a modern facility, and safer bike access for its South Davis customers, at the same rent it currently pays. It’s just not true to say Measure A forces Redrum to shut down.”

They continued, “It was not our decision to make these negotiations public, but there is a major social media offensive underway to convince people who would otherwise support our campaign to vote ‘no’ based on a false premise. We have no choice but to correct the record.”

As the Vanguard reported, “Last week, Nishi reached an amicable arrangement with the Third Space Art Collective. The Nishi team is going above and beyond to be a good neighbor to Olive Drive businesses.”

The campaign reiterated, “Again, Redrum Burger has been offered the option to stay at Nishi as the property’s first tenant on a long term lease paying their current rent. Any objective observer would consider this offer more than fair.”

In an article appearing in the Vanguard this weekend, former Chamber CEO Kemble Pope offered his analysis: “In my humble opinion, this one is a red herring. Redrum will certainly be affected, but they’ve turned down all offers of help. I’ve gathered a bunch of information from a few sources, shared it on their FB page, and Redrum has not disputed any of the following.”

From a source at the Yes on A campaign, “If Redrum closes its doors after Measure A passes, it is their own choice. They are not in any way being forced to close. Quite the opposite. It will likely be 2 years until any construction begins. But, their building is old and in disrepair, and they have a chance to upgrade their location at the same rent. They shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. The property owner has been in discussions with Redrum for over three years!”

From the property owner to the owner of Redrum Burger: “Jim, I’d like to offer you space in one of our buildings at the Nishi site for the same rent and equal space that you have now. A new facility for you on the Nishi property. Dan, my project manager is copied herein.

“Or reduced rent to $1000 plus CAM over the next 3 years in your current space with a one-time payment of $10,000 if your lease terminates prior to 3 years. That would come into effect when I acquire the property. This would go to June 2019.

“Or assistance in finding another location in the next 2 years. There is no bulldozer coming in July – as mentioned prior – we have a lot of work to do before we need Olive Drive. Let us know if this is acceptable. Look forward to your response.”

From another source in commercial real estate, “Redrum has known of Nishi plans for 5 years and have made no efforts to find a new location.  The building is failing and does not meet ADA requirements.  Redrum  has lost business to IN and Out and Dutch Bros traffic has hurt his business.”

According to Mr. Pope’s research “Redrum has been offered the following and refused them all”:

  • a new spot behind their current location
  • property in South Davis next to Jiffy Lube
  • a spot in the Nishi development
  • suggested that he talk with the City about the vacant property on the corner of Olive Drive near Napa that the City owns.

Mr. Pope writes: “Jim Edlund, the owner, has decided instead to oppose the project rather than taking the 5 years of notice to be proactive.  He has been offered multiple forms of assistance and options, and he has rejected them all.  Jim demanded free rent through 2019, which was apparently being considered, but that fell apart when he started funding the No on A campaign.”

He adds: “Obviously there is no agreement they can reach before Election Day, but he has had plenty of advanced notice and has decided to do nothing.”

(Note correction: The Yes on A press release was issued late yesterday, June 6.)

—David M. Greenwald reporting



About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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35 thoughts on “Will Redrum Be a Casualty of Nishi?”

  1. The Pugilist

    Honest question: is Redrum a big deal to most people?  I went there once when I first moved here and have never gone back since.  They caved on the name for no good reason.  Does anyone over 30 go there?

  2. Alan Miller

    I hope Redrum survives.

    If it doesn’t, it sounds like the main question investigators will have to ask is:

    Was it Murder, or was it Edicius?

  3. Roberta Millstein

    Unexplained in Kemble Pope’s comment is why Redrum would choose to ignore such attractive offers.  That would simply not be a good business decision.  I find it much more plausible that they have not received a formal lease proposal, as Jim Edlund says, and in all the quoted bluster from the “Yes” said, I see no one claiming that Redrum in fact received a formal lease proposal.

    1. Fred

      There is no way this so called offer that is “out there in public” exists any where but “out there in public.” You can tell just from the article. There is no mention of a contract or any formal proposal. There is no contract or even formal proposal.

      What the heck are these 2 paragraphs from? they read like an email but there are not even quotes at the beginning and the end. this article is badly written it is impossible to tell what the half source is for this.
      “From the property owner to the owner of Redrum Burger: “Jim, I’d like to offer you space in one of our buildings at the Nishi site for the same rent and equal space that you have now. A new facility for you on the Nishi property. Dan, my project manager is copied herein.
      “Or reduced rent to $1000 plus CAM over the next 3 years in your current space with a one-time payment of $10,000 if your lease terminates prior to 3 years. That would come into effect when I acquire the property. This would go to June 2019.
      Are we supposed to believe that these few lines constitute business proposal for a complicated multi site multi year arrangement? It just is not there. This is a vicious attach on the morning of the election.
      Once people found out what rough treatment this long standing small business is getting they got pissed. Now at the last minute the developer is deploying the dirty tricks.

  4. Frankly

    Aside from the weird love-fest for the funky-named burger joint, does a tenant get to dictate what the property-owner can or cannot do outside the terms of the lease and the law?


    He has known for at least five years.

    He has been offered alternatives.

    Sounds like he is friends of the No crowd and was intent to use his position to make a last minute scene.

    Frankly (because I am), I have only eaten there a couple of times.  It is not easy to get to and, well, it is just a burger joint.

    1. Barack Palin

      Same here, I ate there once many years ago and never went back.  I think the attraction was more in the name than the burger.  They should’ve never changed their name.

    2. Fred

      Frankly that’s pretty mean spirited.

      What do you think should happen to all the small businesses downtown that are in the Brinley properties that where just sold to a Bay Area developer?

      Davis has wonderful small business and they should be cultivated and protected. they are a valuable and difficult to replace resource.  What protections do you think they should get?


      1. Mark West

        “Davis has wonderful small business and they should be cultivated and protected.”

        In many respects, small businesses represent the ‘heart and soul’ of a city, and as such, should absolutely be cultivated, but the worst thing we could do as a city is to try to ‘protect’ those businesses from competition. Protection results in a skewing of the playing field, giving preference to those with friends in power and against those who may be new and innovative. It is a process of choosing winners and losers in advance, based on connections and power, rather than on the quality of products and service. It is a process of stifling business growth, not encouraging it. We should support and nurture local businesses, but if we want a vibrant local economy we must move away from this idea of trying to protect them.

        1. Fred

          This is hardly an instance where competition is going to take out Redrum Burger. Redrum is competing with a fast rising burger chain immediately across the street and doing just fine. This is a matter of protecting local business from predatory developers who are more interested in making a buck with new businesses than seeing existing businesses continue to thrive, despite all of the last minute election platitudes in the last hours of this election. Mark my words here. if this same philosophy is applied to the Brinley properties downtown the “heart and soul” of our city will be ripped out and crushed when the new Brinley landlords hire Dan Carson, Rob White, Steve Souze, Kemble Pope and Spafford and Lincoln to push through their big money greenwashed turd of a project.

        2. Mark West

          Good businesses don’t need protection, just opportunity.  Redrum has plenty of opportunities to move if they so choose.  If they shut down, it will be due to their own choice. The same will be true for the businesses downtown when their buildings are redeveloped. The protections you are advocating will only act to stifle business vitality, not support it.

          “the “heart and soul” of our city will be ripped out and crushed when the new Brinley landlords hire…to push through their big money greenwashed turd of a project.”

          Just the sort of comment I would expect from the ‘fear of change’ crowd (not to mention the personal attacks).

        3. Tia Will

          It is a process of choosing winners and losers in advance, based on connections and power, rather than on the quality of products and service”

          And this is exactly how I feel about giving preferential treatment to certain types of ventures coming from the university over others. Tech for example which is so popular at the moment to name one foreordained winner being favored by some of our city leaders.

  5. dlemongello

    The clear question is if all this is true, why has the owner not taken one of these offers which seem very reasonable, even generous?  Are the offers just hype without proper documentation just to make Nishi look good?  That seems to be stated/implied in, “No letter or proposal was ever received as a result of that meeting.”)? Are they in a legal position to make a binding proposal?  Is he just digging in because people find it hard to change?

    1. nameless

      The developer’s proposals for Redrum are PUBLIC – hard to go back on. It makes good business sense for the developer to offer Redrum a place at Nishi.

  6. ryankelly

    I figure he’s being advised by people on the No on A side.  He was one of the major donators to the No on A campaign.  He’s gambling that the Measure fails, I think.  Preserving Redrum Burger is not a high priority, I think, especially when he has options that would improve his business.


  7. South of Davis

    The Puligist wrote:

    > Honest question: is Redrum a big deal to most people? 

    Back when it was Murder Burger they had great burgers and decent service.

    For at least the past decade the place has been having issues and other than the new crop of UCD kids wanting to try a local place and older folks coming back in to town to relive memories I don’t know anyone that goes there.

    As a small business owner who tries hard to support other local small business and who hates how the trend it toward more giant corporate chains it pains me to say this but In-N-Out has better burgers with better service at a better price.


    1. Alan Miller

      Back when it was Murder Burger they had great burgers and decent service.

      They didn’t change their name.  When it comes to Murder Burger, I don’t know a single person in town that doesn’t have severe dyslexia.

      As for the service and quality, it’s the same as it’s always been (read that any way you’d like).  As a pesco-vegetarian who is into healthy eating, I don’t go there even remotely as often as I used to.

      However, small business is where it is at, and local business is where it is at.  That’s what makes the economy great, and that’s what gives places like Davis character.  Corporate economy and sterile chains can suck my *****.

      So I support Murder Burger as a local business and local landmark.  If it were me, I’d take the offer of a new location if it makes business sense.  I also understand not wanting to move one’s location — very disruptive.  On the other hand, that building isn’t a long-term option.  I do believe Nishi developers want M.B. to stick around (or did before they joined the NO campaign); working with the other Olive businesses shows this.  Does taking the offer to relocate make business sense?  Who is telling the truth?  It may not seem possible, but I’m not sure anyone is outright lying here.  Sometimes the truth is relative, and may seem/be the absolute truth to each party.

      Murder Burger is dead!  Long live Murder Burger!

    2. Adam Smith

      In general, I agree about local business vs big chain.  Of course, In-n-Out Burger is still a family owned company, and was once a small local business.    But because it has better burgers with better service, it is now a large family owned business, but not a corporate business in the traditional sense.

        1. Alan Miller

          To clarify, what I don’t disagree about is the business aspect of In-N-Out.

          I’ve always expected Murder Burger to be exactly what it is and has always been.  They have always stated it takes longer to provide what they offer, and it does; they have always provided decent service.

          The only alternatives (to meat) I’ve tried at In-N-Out have been hardly edible, and the experience that of a fast food place, which is of no interest to me.


  8. The Pugilist

    The bottom line is that the owner had every chance to cut a deal to secure the future of RR and has been stubborn.  I don’t get this.

  9. Fred


    Your article has a BIG factual problem.

    You state “Yes on A campaign issued a statement late on Tuesday ”
    What date are you talking about? Are you talking about today or last Tuesday? its not really late in the day yet today and I just looked at the Redrum page and their first post was Wednesday June 1st at 3:59 PM. 

    Are you trying to say that the Yes campaign issued a press release first?

    Is there some earlier Redrum statement I am not aware of? You didn’t reference anything other than the Facebook posts in your article. When was this press release actually issued? Late Monday? The night before the election? That’s when I started seeing the paid Yes on A ads Disparaging Mr. Edlund.

    If your looking for misinformation and dirty tricks late Monday the night before the election is the place to look, yet you run all of this verbatim attacking Mr Edlund. That is not ethical journalism

  10. A Reality Check

    Fred,  Redrum had written notice in 2011 of plans for Nishi. Redrum attended the outreach meetings in 2012-2013.  Redrum admitted that he met with the developers in late 2015 and has since decided not to communicate at all and then funded the No campaign.  Redrum has made no efforts to plan for its future. Its been 5 years and there are 2 years more before anything happens. That is 7 years total. Why don’t you help him find a spot? Hint, there is a vacant parcel right across the street owned by the City of Davis.

  11. aaahirsch8


    What is the public interest in maintaining this business at this location?

    Traffic: Everyone on No on A is so concerned about traffic on Richards/Olive, but one seems to be willing to ask we should support putting a drive in restaurant here….which adds to turnings in and out at Oliver and Richards–slowing folk to get to the true downtown area or the university the true economic engines of our community?

    Tax contribution to the City: While this drive-thru restaurant generate traffic at this corner, its take-out food generates NO sales tax revenue (zip) to pay for improving the traffic flows at  this corner, or police fire, etc protection.  To my eye, this restaurant is a “free rider” exploiting the public good but not giving anything back to the city coffers.

    Health:  I know some folk like fast food burger, but this is hardly healthy food…it is tailored to attract our “most vulnerable” population, college kids, to eat less than healthy food.

    Environmental Impact: A drive thru businesses with idling cars is hardly eco-friendly businesses model.

    So, if this business creates a traffic liability, creates air pollution with idling car, has a big carbon footprint, and contributes no money to the city, sells unhealthy fast food, why exactly is it in the public interest to support him over his landlord in a dispute over land uses for this spot?











    1. South of Davis

      aaahirsch8 wrote:

      > A drive thru businesses with idling cars is hardly

      > eco-friendly businesses model.

      Redrum is not a “drive thru”…

  12. Eric Gelber

    First Café Italia and now Redrum Burger. When will it end? Next thing you know they’ll go after the Antique Bazaar and Larry Blakes. What?! Noooooo!

    1. South of Davis

      A Reality Check wrote:

      > Eric, thought you might advocate for a more affordable burger.

      Serious question for Eric and others that support “affordable” housing.  I have never heard anyone (or any city) ask other business to price a percentage of what they sell below market to help the poor.  Sure developers tend to have a fair amount of money (more than the typical small business owner) but they have a lot less than The Billionaires that own Wal Mart, In-N-Out and Tesla, why not ask those companies to sell “Below Market Rate”/”BRM” food, clothes, burgers and cars?

      1. Eric Gelber

        South of Davis –

        That’s a fair question and I don’t claim to be an expert in this area of the law. Inclusionary housing requirements have most often, though not exclusively, been upheld as a proper exercise of the police power. In a recent California Supreme Court case–Calif. Building Industry Ass’n v. City of San Jose–the Court ruled that the need for affordable housing and the goal to increase diversity of housing opportunity throughout the city provided ample justification for the adoption of the inclusionary requirement.  Inclusionary laws, the Court said, come within the community’s “broad authority, under its general police power, to regulate the development and use of real property within its jurisdiction to promote the public welfare” of the community or the region.  Inclusionary housing ordinances are land use regulations that restrict the use of property by limiting the price of some units. Approximately 170 California communities have inclusionary requirements.


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