Cal Poly and Cuesta College students are helping with marketing research and planning for a Cambria restaurant currently undergoing renovations with plans to reopen in the spring or summer.
The two-story restaurant, formerly known as The Hamlet at Moonstone Gardens, is perched on a rise by Highway 1 near the north end of Moonstone Beach Drive on the north fringe of Cambria. The three-acre site, with spectacular ocean views, was purchased for $2.475 million sale by Dave G. Robertson, the owner of Centrally Grown Inc.
The Hamlet, originally started by Maggie and Norman Hamlet in Harmony in 1975, had been in operation there since 1982. It closed Jan. 22.
It will reopen as Centrally Grown — using “centrally grown” foodstuffs, buying local and “getting trucks off the road,” Robertson said. The eatery will be health oriented, but “not a health-food place,” he said. “Fundamentally, whether it’s about buying our equipment, hiring our people or getting the food from farmers, it’s all about local. We want this to be kind of a movement, looking at supply chains and sustainability.”
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Plans are to retain the most popular of The Hamlet’s offerings, while expanding the menu’s appeal under the direction of chef Eric Olson from Monterey.
An emphasis on sustainability includes re-using items taken out during the renovation, including aggregate concrete sidewalks and lumber for benches and chairs.
The plan for part of the water supply for the garden — including vegetables, fruit and herbs — calls for a cistern that will store water run-off from the restaurant roof.
Brian Wright, the executive director of Centrally Grown, said he wants to balance what the community wants and needs with what will work well for tourists.
Site plans include small retail outlets offering fair trade, organic and local produce and food to go, local clothing and art. It’s expected there will be from 30 to 40 employees.
Student help with planning includes surveying former Hamlet customers and others who drive up to find out what brought them there and what would bring them back.
Robertson said he sold “one of my health-care companies in September” 2011 to buy the site. The company he sold was Dynamic Medical Systems, based in Kansas. Robertson, though other corporations, also owns nearly $4 million worth of ranchland northeast of San Simeon Creek Road.