Finally ready for the check at Pernicano's - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Finally ready for the check at Pernicano's

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Good news for Hillcrest. The owners of the vacant and deteriorating former Pernicano's restaurant have announced they are finally ready to sell the building.

From iconic to eyesore. With graffiti, transients and deferred maintenance, the shine left the Pernicano's star decades ago, but the restaurant's 98-year-old owner continually refused to sell the property -- until now.

"I am excited. Thank God in heaven," Harvey Milk's American Diner co-owner Frank Lechner said.

Harvey Milk's is right next door to Pernicano's.

"It will definitely change the block, definitely change the neighborhood. We have a big problem with homeless hanging out around the front of it, so that'll clean up and change it, and trim those trees I hope," Lechner said.

George Pernicano opened his restaurant here on 6th Avenue in Hillcrest back in 1950, attracting celebrities and football legends. Lillian Nielsen had an occasional lunch here, but you can't blame her for not remembering what she ate. Pernicano's shut its doors 30 years ago. Since then, the dust has been piling up, neighbors have complained about the dilapidated building, and George and his wife, living in the past, have refused to sell. But now their sons have taken over the family's affairs, and are willing to unload the property.

"That was their business. That was where the best years of their lives were spent. So it was an emotional attachment that really didn't have anything to do with money. And so now the family understands the possibility of leaving a legacy piece there, and I think that's what they're interested in doing, selling the property," City Council President Todd Gloria said.

Gloria has been trying to upgrade this 25,000-square-foot lot since he first took office six years ago. In 2010 he got the family to open up its parking lot to help local businesses. Now that the Pernicanos have agreed to sell, he's excited about the future.

"Well, you know there are a number of needs in the Hillcrest area. I think first and foremost is a hotel. We don't have over in that community. It's something my constituents ask me about a lot," he said.

The property officially hits the market Monday with a $12 million asking price. Nielsen knows whatever ends up there will be a big improvement.

"I hope something good gets in there that I can shop in. I love to spend money," she said.

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