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Smart & Final Fills Its Share Of Former Haggen Locations

Less than five months into 2016, the competitive slate of grocery stores now operating in San Diego County looks very different than it did at the end of 2015 — due largely to the quick departure of the Northwest supermarket chain Haggen Inc.

Several food sellers have swooped in to fill the Haggen vacuum, led by Smart & Final. The Commerce-based discount grocery chain recently announced that it has opened all 33 California locations where it acquired leases out of Haggen’s bankruptcy proceedings for approximately $68 million, including 11 in the local market.

Between Jan. 20 and May 11, company officials said, the openings of the Smart & Final Extra stores created more than 1,900 jobs in Southern and Central California. Smart & Final, which operates via a nonmembership, warehouse club-style format, now has more than 300 stores in six states, including 24 in San Diego County.

Since the start of the year, Gelson’s Markets of Encino opened its first San Diego County stores in Del Mar and Carlsbad’s La Costa neighborhood, with another coming soon in La Jolla’s Bird Rock neighborhood (technically northern Pacific Beach) — all in former Haggen spaces. By year’s end, four other former Haggens in the local market will all be back to their original Albertsons formats.

No opening timetables have been announced at some other local Haggen spots purchased by other grocery retailers. Those include a Mission Hills location acquired by the parent of Carson-headquartered Bristol Farms; and sites in Clairemont and Chula Vista purchased by Buena Park-based Asian grocer Tawa Inc.

Outside of the Haggen situation, still other grocers are setting up new local stores, so more choices are on the way. Discount grocer Aldi recently opened its first local store in Vista, though it hasn’t announced other local sites yet, and Inland Empire-based Jensen’s

Finest Foods is expected to debut later this year in Point Loma.

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Comings and Goings on Dining Circuit: Celebrity chef Brian Malarkey has recently been a hit with tenants and visitors at office buildings in University Towne Center and Torrey Pines, after debuting ground-floor, farm-themed restaurants emphasizing healthy, fresh-grown foods at two properties owned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc.

Malarkey’s next opening will apparently get him back to the business of operating hip neighborhood eateries with no business offices attached. The former “Top Chef” finalist and his business partner, Christopher Puffer, plan a May 26 opening for Herb & Wood in the northern part of Little Italy at 2210 Kettner Blvd., with a menu from Malarkey and co-chef Shane McIntyre described as “wood-fired, coastal California and Mediterranean-inspired.”

In Mission Hills, owner Trish

Watlington plans to close the beef-focused Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge on June 20 after six years in business. Watlington will remodel the spot at 729 W. Washington St. and reopen it in July as a “fresh bar-focused space” with a name yet to be announced, emphasizing interactive cocktails and a menu geared to sustainable foods.

In North Park, Executive Chef Fred Piehl and Managing Director Tammy Piehl recently opened One Door North, adjacent to their existing neighborhood staple The Smoking Goat at 3422 30th St., at the corner of 30th and Upas streets. Operators said the new 5,000-square-foot bar and eatery has seating for up to 140 in three distinct dining areas — an airy street-facing front section, a central bar with flat-screen TVs, and a back section with three 11-foot-tall “safari tents.”

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Bowling-Eatery Concept Strikes Up New Funding: San Diego-headquartered Tavern + Bowl has received more than $12 million in equity and debt capital to fund future expansion plans, according to locally based investment bank Objective Capital Partners, which arranged the financing.

A statement from Objective Capital Partners said the funding will help the restaurant and hospitality company — with a concept combining a bar and eatery with bowling lanes — proceed with a planned expansion to Arizona and other western U.S. states. Led by founder and CEO Dan Hurd, Tavern + Bowl has current locations in East Village, Escondido, Eastlake and Costa Mesa.

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New commercial tenant arrivals: Jennifer Adams, which markets a lifestyle brand of luxury-oriented bedding, linens, draperies and other home accessories sold at thousands of retailers including Costco Wholesale, recently set up a second headquarters at 6106 Paseo Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe. The company, named for its CEO and founder who is also a celebrity interior designer and author, has its other office in Scottsdale, Ariz.

At Harbor Island, Freedom Boat Club plans an early June opening for its second local franchised location at Cabrillo Isle Marina, 1450 Harbor Island Drive, following its 2014 debut at Dana Landing Marina in Mission Bay. The Sarasota, Fla.-based company, with more than 110 locations nationwide, provides a membership-based alternative to boat ownership, giving monthly-dues-paying customers access to fishing, pontoon, ski and other types of boats.

Send commercial real estate and development news of general local interest to Lou Hirsh via email at lhirsh@sdbj.com. He can be reached at 858-277-8904.

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