The owner of the Corner View Restaurant and Bar in San Luis Obispo said Wednesday that the rising cost of operating the business, coupled with the downturn in the economy, caused him to close its doors for good.
As a result, 34 employees lost their jobs.
The establishment, at 1141 Chorro St. downtown, is a local landmark. But its prime location and popularity couldn’t help keep it open.
“Revenues were up but, so were expenses,” said owner Bill Carpenter. “September and October are our slowest months. We tried to make it work. But we just couldn’t hang on until November when business usually picks up.”
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Carpenter and his wife, Patty, opened the restaurant eight years ago. At that time, Carpenter says his rent was $6,000 a month. Now he says it’s about $10,000 a month. “That’s a 30 to 40 percent increase, and it was going up again in November,” Carpenter said.
Matt Quaglino, president of Quaglino Properties LLC, owns the building. He declined to discuss rental costs but did say the rent at the storefront never went as high as $10,000 and that he leases the space at a fair market price.
“The rent is not over the top. Rents in downtown San Luis Obispo are what they are,” Quaglino said.
He added that it was the Carpenters’ decision to leave.
“They weren’t evicted. They always made some sort of payment,” Quaglino said. “We had a good relationship. This is unfortunate. That business was Bill and Patty’s passion in their life.”
The sluggish economy has forced customers to rethink how they spend money, Carpenter noted.
“People have changed their dining habits, and I can’t blame them. Times are difficult for everyone right now,” Carpenter said. “The economy has been tough for the last couple of years. Banks are not lending money, and I didn’t want to go into debt trying to keep us open.”
Three weeks ago, the restaurant scaled back its hours in an effort to save money. “That move came too late,” Carpenter said. “We ran out of money. That’s how it is. Unfortunately, we were already past the point of no return.”
Carpenter said he realized he only had one way out. “We gave it serious consideration. It was the only thing we could do. I had to close the restaurant. The landlord and vendors wanted money that we just didn’t have to give them.”
One of the most difficult things in this whole process, Carpenter said, was telling the employees that the restaurant was closing. “It was horrible,” Carpenter said. “Most of the people there are like family. But, we have a great crew, and many of them have already found other jobs in town.”
The Carpenters have one daughter. They will stay in the area and look for jobs, most likely outside the restaurant industry.
Carpenter looks back on his ownership with pride: “It’s been a great eight years. And we are closing our doors with our heads held high.”
— Stacy Daniel
Luna Red opening in Chow location
After closing Chow, his Pan-Asian-inspired restaurant, owner Robin Covey is opening Luna Red, a tapas and wine bar in the same location, 1009 Monterey St.
Dinners will be served starting tonight, with lunch set for next week.
“The menu at Chow was too limited,” Covey said. “It needed broader appeal. We just didn’t have the market to support that style of restaurant.”
Covey has revamped the Monterey Street space. “The restaurant has a completely different feel,” he said. “It’s much more warm and intimate.”
The restaurant’s menu features small plates and appetizers that are meant to be shared. Dinner-size portions are also available.
Prices range from about $7 to $12 for tapas and $15 to $20 for items on the dinner menu.
The transformation from Chow to Luna Red took less than a month to complete, and Covey is optimistic in his outlook. “This time around I feel like we are going to be much more well received.”
— Stacy Daniel
Cinemas reopen in downtown SLO
Mission Cinemas at 1025 Monterey St. will reopen Friday after a brief closure caused by a drop in customers.
“Attendance had been so low, at times, it was me and a projectionist running the whole theater,” said Mark Scaccianoce, general manager of Fremont/ Mission Cinemas. “Closing Mission Cinemas was a way to keep us economically viable. It was a way for us to keep our doors open for the long run.”
Mission Cinemas, with three screens, shows first- run movies that have been out for about three weeks. Films are moved from the Fremont and Downtown Centre Cinemas to be shown at a reduced price.
Over the last month or so, the theater let about 14 employees go. About half of them have been rehired in anticipation of the reopening.
— Stacy Daniel