I am assuming that since you were unable to answer my questions then you might not be able to connect to the site since you posted your question. I will try to fully answer your question, but I will use some assumptions. Do note that even after I send my answer to you feel free to clarify any assumption I made that is wrong as that may affect my answer.
I am going to assume you have a written contract with the tenant. Since your contract is with the tenant and not the owner then under California law you will be deemed a sub-contractor and the rules that apply to sub-contractors will apply to you. You are required to provide a preliminary notice, by serving your notice on the owner of the property and in this case the tenant. You can serve this personally or mail it via Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=08001-09000&file=8200-8216 You are required to have served this notice within 20 days of the beginning of the project. If you missed this you can still file one during your work, but any mechanic’s lien filed will only relate to work performed after the Preliminary notice was served on the parties.
In California you have very strict time limits that apply as to your time frame to record a mechanics lien. It is the earlier of these two: within 90 days of completion of work or no later than 30 days after the owner files notice of completion of the work, whichever of these is shorter. See specifically 8414 http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=08001-09000&file=8410-8424 . Section 8416 at same link as above details what must be included in any mechanic’s lien filed with the County Recorders office in the county where the property is located.
To then enforce your lien if you followed the steps above properly and provided a preliminary notice at the beginning of the project then you must file suit to foreclose within 90 days of filing the actual mechanic’s lien. If you fail to bring this legal action within that time then you are required to file a release of lien or you could be subject to the other side’s attorney’s fees if they have to take you to court to get you to file a release.
In your question you don’t mention anything about filing a preliminary notice or recording a mechanics lien. I am going to assume that you did not provide the preliminary notice to the owner and if so you are beyond the time frame to one file the mechanics lien or 2 you are beyond the time for file a foreclosure action to enforce your lien.
In that case you would simply file a breach of contract claim against the tenant. Just because you didn’t go through the mechanic’s lien process does not mean you lose your right to collect. The mechanic’s lien is setup so contractors don’t have to sue every time someone does not pay them and many times filing the mechanics lien will bring about payment. In this case I am assuming that is not an option.
You should consult with a local litigation attorney. You can find an attorney by using the search for attorney function at findlaw.com or avvo.com Most attorneys will meet with you for 30 minutes for free to go over your case. At any such meeting you want to have a copy of the contract signed by you and tenant.
In a breach of contract claim you are generally entitled to be made whole (paid what was owed and if you incurred any extra charges due to the other party’s breach then those damages as well) along with reasonable attorney’s fees required to file suit and collect any damages awarded by the Court. If you know that the restaurant has a certain amount of personal property inside such as table, chairs, refrigerators, etc then once you prevail in a lawsuit you can ask the Court to issue you a writ of execution and this will typically require the sheriff or constable to go to the property and look for any property they could take and sale to pay you back. If the property does not have a lien against it (your attorney can search for the lien and your attorney can take an oral deposition of defendant after judgment to have him/her identify all bank accounts, property, etc that is subject to sale to pay your judgment.
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