The village of Arroyo Grande is fast becoming a place for foodies as it prepares to welcome another restaurant, this time with North County roots.
Robert’s Restaurant and Bar, known for its classical American cuisine, has been serving customers at its Pine Street location in Paso Robles for nearly three years. Now, it will bring the same approach to dining at East Branch and Mason streets, the former site of J.J.’s Market, which closed in 2009.
“I think it’s going in a positive direction where people will find themselves with choices similar to what you find in Paso Robles,” said Brenda Clouston, co-owner of the restaurant with her husband, Robert. “People will come into Arroyo Grande and choose a restaurant based on their feelings of that day.”
They expect to open the restaurant in December or January.
The success of the first enterprise — due in large part to executive chef Justin Picard and his team — was behind their decision to expand the Robert’s brand, Clouston said.
The Cloustons, whose restaurant in Paso is profitable, were also attracted to the warmth and old-fashioned charm of Arroyo Grande and its ties to the local wine scene. In addition to the food, with menu items such as fresh, local vegetables, macadamia nut encrusted halibut, ribeye and macaroni and cheese with bacon bits and onions, the restaurant in Paso touts an extensive by-the-glass wine list.
It was important that the Arroyo Grande restaurant connect with local wineries and breweries eager to showcase their offerings in the dining room, Clouston said.
It also helped that landlord Nick Tompkins, who is building a grocery store next door, had eaten at Robert’s in Paso Robles and wanted to see the restaurant in his Arroyo Grande building, said Clouston, who is decorating the interior space with modern touches. Tables will be available on the outside of the building as well.
While the Cloustons expect to attract tourists, they are focused on gaining a following among locals who want good food in an unstuffy atmosphere. Menu items range from $7 to $30.
“We want to provide a great dining room for the people who live up the hill and on the ranchettes and in the neighborhoods,” she said. She declined to disclose financial details of the local restaurant.