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Friday, Dec 9, 2022
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Restaurateurs Trying Out Novel Ideas in the Gaslamp

While the sour economy has taken a big bite out of restaurant revenues, and many have sold or gone out of business, some newbies say they?e found a niche in the Gaslamp Quarter by offering something different.

For example, Moe and his sister Moji Sadighian, who partnered to open Tabule on Fourth Avenue in June 2008, offer a mix of national and international cuisines at prices they say are 30 percent lower than other white-tablecloth eateries in the Gaslamp.

Sadighian, who owns two nightclubs and four restaurants in Tijuana, says he learned how to operate on a low profit margin, yet expects to attract a high volume of clientele locally.

?ut our big thing is we want to be different,?he said. ?e want people to feel like they?e in a friend? living room when they come here, not just another number.?p>Tabule? menu includes Latin, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Italian, Japanese and Thai dishes. Entrees range in price from $13 to $39.

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The Sadighians spent $750,000 to purchase La Cantina restaurant, which operated there previously, and remodel the interior. Their lease rate for 3,000 square feet is $2.75 per square foot monthly. They average between 500 and 600 patrons weekly, he says.

In mid-May, Moe Sadighian and two other partners, Alberto Macias and Miguel Marquez, opened Funky Garcia?, a cantina that replaced the historic Sun Cafe on Market Street. Altogether, they paid $1.4 million to open, including construction, the cost of acquiring the eatery and a liquor license.

Their lease, Sadighian says, runs $7,980 a month. Included on a Mexican food menu are $1.99 tacos.

Sadighian says that it has drawn 2,000 customers a week and, on Memorial Day alone, 1,800 bellied up to the bar. He and his partners plan to roll out the concept to Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Santa Monica and Scottsdale, Ariz.


100 Bars, Restaurants Downtown

According to industry sources, there are 100 restaurants and bars downtown, including 80 in the 16-block Gaslamp Quarter, and that the county totals 1,000, including food courts.

Sources also say the industry has suffered a 30 percent drop in sales.

Another restaurateur bent on making it where others have failed is Steve Epstein, whose family owns Brian? 24, an all-night diner that opened on New Year? Eve adjacent to the Ramada Gaslamp Convention Center hotel on Sixth Avenue. There were three other eateries there previously.

Epstein says his family acquired Brian?, the last restaurant at the site, but declined to state the price or amount of his lease.


?ig Food?Served

Brian? 24 serves what he calls ?ig food.?Breakfast fare starts at $5.99 and dinners range between $12.95 and $25. Specials include Southern style waffles with chicken as well as peanut butter burgers ?a beef patty with bacon smothered in peanut butter ?and if that? not enough, being open ?ound the clock is also a big draw, he says.

?e saw a gaping hole in the downtown market,?he added. ?very metropolitan area I?e ever been in had 24-hour diners.?p>Pablo Becker expected to open El Vitral Mexican Cuisine in the historic Schiefer Building on J Street in December. However, he wasn? able to open until May.

?he opening date had nothing to do with the economy or finances. It was more a matter of getting everyone coordinated, CCDC (Centre City Development Corp.) and the city,?he said.

Becker signed a 10-year lease for the 4,170-square-foot restaurant for $4.50 a square foot monthly.

But he got a couple of breaks. The start date for the lease was extended three months, and while he spent $2 million to open the restaurant, the tab would have been higher before the subprime lending debacle took the steam out of commercial construction, he says.

El Vitral features contemporary as well as traditional Mexican cuisine. Entrees range in price from $12 to $32. Try asking for that at your local taco shop.

? feel that even in a bad economy people still want to go out and have a good time and a good meal and we as restaurant operators will be successful if we give them the best quality food possible and the best service in a nice setting.?enews_Column=-1

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