Laurel Lane shopping center in SLO to see changes

The Laurel Lane shopping center on April 20, 2016. Renovations have recently been made to the center. The barbershop and martial arts studio remain in the center, but a longtime Mexican restaurant recently closed.
The Laurel Lane shopping center on April 20, 2016. Renovations have recently been made to the center. The barbershop and martial arts studio remain in the center, but a longtime Mexican restaurant recently closed.

A Mexican restaurant and a coffee shop are slated to open by early next year in the Laurel Lane shopping center in San Luis Obispo — with plans for apartments and additional commercial space next door. One longtime business has recently closed, and renovations continue on other commercial spaces in the complex nestled between Richard Street and Southwood Drive.

Three businesses are open in the Laurel Lane center: Pit.Fit, which offers kickboxing, martial arts and yoga; Laurel Lane Market; and the SLO Town Barber Shop, which first opened with the center in 1963. Property owner Aurignac & Associates also has an office there.

There have been several business changes and renovations since Laurel Lane Investments LLC, owned by local real estate investor Patrick Aurignac, purchased the shopping center in December 2013.

Efren’s Mexican Restaurant, which has locations in Oceano, Santa Maria, Oxnard and Nipomo, will move into 4,000 square feet of the shopping center, Aurignac said. This location will be the restaurant company’s largest location and flagship, he said.

SLO Coast Coffee, a mobile gourmet cart and truck available for events, will open its first brick-and-mortar location in the center, occupying 1,400 to 1,500 square feet, according to Aurignac.

Both Efren’s Mexican Restaurant and SLO Coast Coffee are slated to open by early next year.

Aurignac plans to move his office from the center into space above Coverings, a retail boutique in downtown San Luis Obispo that closed Wednesday. The space had been used for Coverings’ offices.

In addition to the Mexican restaurant and coffee shop, Aurignac said he is looking for a mom-and-pop type of yogurt or smoothie shop. When renovations are complete, Laurel Lane Market will include a deli as well.

Approximately 6,000 square feet is left to lease of the approximately 16,000-square-foot center.

The total cost of renovations will be about $1.2 million, including about $250,000 to redo the parking lot and add more parking, Aurignac said.

After the center is renovated, Aurignac plans to add 19 three-bedroom, three-bath apartments, one manager unit and 5,000-square-feet of new commercial space adjacent to the center.

The luxury apartments will be built above and behind the new commercial space, geared toward families and young professionals. Aurignac plans to relocate SLO Town Barber Shop to the new commercial space once it’s completed, leaving about 4,000 square feet available for other tenants.

The mixed-use project is in the permitting and entitlement stages, Aurignac said, adding that he anticipates breaking ground in May or June 2017, completing the project in 2018.

SLO Fresh Market closed in February 2013 after nearly 50 years in business when Aurignac raised the rent from 30 cents per square foot to $1 per square foot (80 percent of the current market value), according to previous Tribune reports. It was replaced by The Pit (which has since changed its name to Pit.Fit), which took over the 6,700-square-foot location before moving recently to a smaller space at the center.

Longtime Mexican restaurant Tacos De Acapulco closed in March after about 20 years at the center. The restaurant still operates a location at 596 California Blvd., which opened about two years ago, said Neli Saligan, whose family owns the business.

She said her parents, Fernando and Consuelo Patricio, opened the business along Laurel Lane and continue to work at the restaurant in various capacities — her father still cooks, while her mother is “in charge of paperwork.”

Saligan said the family was willing to sign a new 10-year lease but had concerns about paying the full cost of a restaurant expansion and remodel. They decided to close instead.

Aurignac said he did not ask the family to pay the full cost of the renovation: “We are very fair, and we did not require them to pay for everything, but we were going to give them a lower rent if they paid for more of the improvements.”

They were unable to reach an agreement, Aurignac said.

Mark Roetker, who has owned SLO Town Barber Shop for the past 12 years, said he’s been offered a five-year lease with an option to renew for another five years.

Roetker said he researched what he might pay to lease space elsewhere and decided Aurignac’s offer, about $2.50 a square foot, was fair. He said he was already paying about $1 a square foot when Aurignac took over the center and thought “$1 a square foot is a good deal in this town.”

Danielle Ames: 805-781-7902