Biz Buzz: Restaurant at Carlton under new ownership

A new restaurant and bar is expected to open this fall in The Carlton Hotel in Atascadero.

Shockley’s at the Carlton, a new business boasting a mix of California cuisine — is planning a mid-September opening, according to co-owner John Shockley, who shares the business with Kimberley Ness.

The restaurant space, formerly The Carlton Restaurant & Grill, with an additional wine cellar and banquet room called diVINE, has been closed since Feb. 3.

The state Board of Equalization revoked the Carlton’s bar and restaurant seller’s permit because of its failure to pay state taxes. The restaurant was subsequently forced to shut down.

The 52-room hotel on the corner of El Camino Real and Traffic Way has remained open during the restaurant closure.

The Bay Area business partners plan to give the restaurant’s interior “a whole new look and feel,” Shockley said, including new paint and removing its thick drapes and leather furnishings.

There will also be more couches and coffee tables to give it a lounge feel, he said, instead of the grill’s more formal seating plan.

The new menu will include burgers, pasta dishes and steaks, he said, in a lower price bracket than the grill’s higher-end target market.

Hotel owner David Weyrich has been attempting to keep the hotel afloat despite debts that have forced him into foreclosure on other properties, including his luxury Villa Toscana bed-and-breakfast in Paso Robles.

Talks with Weyrich began in June, Shockley said. Shockley declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Shockley and Ness will seek 30 to 45 employees for their restaurant, and are open to interviewing employees who previously worked at the now-defunct grill.

In 2008, Weyrich brought in San Luis Obispo’s Art Café for the bakery portion of the hotel, but it has since closed. Malibu Brew Cafe and Bakery expanded into that space this summer to serve coffee, baked goods and other light dishes.

— Tonya Strickland

Company offers tours of Morro Bay

One of Morro Bay’s newest businesses, Lost Isle Adventures, is offering family fun with tours of Morro Bay’s harbor and estuary on a flat-bottomed, tiki-themed boat.

Customers can see otters, sea lions and other sea life, an estuary popular with cormorants and blue herons as well as pelicans, and working barges on an oyster farm, said Alan Rockov, who captains the 30-foot-long boat and runs the business with his wife, Wendy Rockov.

“The biggest attraction right now is the beach visit and the oyster farm tour,” Alan Rockov said.

The beach is a deserted sandspit reachable only by boat, where people can stay for 15 minutes, or hike, picnic or set out on a Lost Isle treasure hunt for hours, with pick up for home on a later Lost Isle cruise.

The general cruise of the bay, which runs about 45 minutes, starts from the Giovanni’s Fish Market dock along Morro Bay’s Embarcadero and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the hour during the week. On Thursdays through Sundays, the Rackovs offer sunset cruises at 7 p.m.

The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

— Melanie Cleveland