By Mike Allen
November 5, 2022 (Santee) – The Tin Fish at Santee Lakes, open for about a year, is closing this weekend, but why is that a mystery. Padre Dam Water District, the agency that controls Santee Lakes, said only that a new supplier was being selected.
Melissa McChesney, a spokeswoman for Padre Dam, said company owner Ed Kim told the agency in September “he intended to cease operations at Santee Lakes.”
She said the agency and the owner determined that the best course of action for both parties was to award the licensing deal to another vendor, which Padre Dam’s CEO would oversee and select. But she didn’t provide any reason why Kim was leaving her contract early. In May 2021, he signed a three-year lease with Padre Dam and opened the restaurant in June.
The lease provided that Kim (pictured, right) would pay a base rent of $3,000 per month at Padre Dam. The agreement would be adjusted in the second year based on the annual increase in the consumer price index.
A stop at the fish restaurant on Friday found only a few customers on the scenic $9 million bridge that overlooks Lake 4 that the agency completed last year. A counter worker said the last day for business was Nov 6 and didn’t know why the place was closing.
Asked what would replace the fish restaurant, the worker replied that it could be a pizzeria, but the worker was not sure.
Calls and an email to Kim were not returned. Kim also owns a Tin Fish at the Imperial Beach Pier.
Laura Koval, director of parks at Santee Lakes, declined to provide a reason why the Tin Fish breached its contract. “The disposal process (of the lease) is ongoing with the current owner, so it would be premature for me to comment until an agreement is in place.”
The Tin Fish has restaurants in five other locations besides Santee: Imperial Beach, Oceanside, the Gaslamp Quarter, San Francisco and Indiana, according to its website. The Santee outlet is not listed on the website.
An email sent to Joseph Melluso, who founded the company in 1998 in San Diego, was not returned.
In other Santee Lakes news, Padre Dam’s Board of Directors approved a new list of fees for a variety of things including vehicle entry, facilities and equipment rental at their meeting. of October 19.
Koval said the wording of the pricing structure has been changed by inserting the words “up to” for many things that allow fleet managers to have flexibility and adjust prices “depending on the changes in market trends“, without having to return regularly to the Board to approve such changes. .
For example, while the fee ranges for drive-in entry are listed as $7-$10 per car for a weekday, the actual fee this year of $4 will remain the same in 2023. For weekends and holidays, the fee per car will drop from $6 to $7 next year.
There is no fee for people visiting the park on foot, and many local residents can park nearby without paying a fee.
For Santee Lakes Campground, the rate for a vehicle on a standard return space this year is $60 per day on weekdays and $66 on weekends. This will increase in 2023 to $65 on weekdays and $71 per day on weekends. But these rates are off peak.
During the peak demand period from April to early September for the same return space weekdays next year will be $71 and weekends $78.
Before adopting the new fee ranges, Koval said his staff researched local parks and RV campgrounds to make sure the rates in Santee Lakes were in line with the competition, and determined that park fees were lower than most similar local parks.
“As the winner of the best large ARVC campground in the country three times in the last 10 years (including 2021), we certainly think we could charge as much or more than our local competitors, but we put our all implemented to maintain affordability,” she wrote in an email.
For a complete view of all fares at Santee Lakes, visit the website,