More restaurants moving in: Are eateries taking over downtown?


A recent trend shows that more restaurants than retailers have been opening in downtown San Luis Obispo.

According to the city’s business license database, 18 restaurants have opened in the downtown in the past two years. There were six in 2010 and 12 so far this year. Three others have either moved into larger locations or are expanding their current spaces.

That compares to the 14 retail stores that have opened in the downtown area during the same period: eight in 2010 and six this year.

“It seems that there are restaurants moving into spaces that have formerly been retail spaces,” said Claire Clark, economic development manager for the city, “notably, the former Meridian location, a couple of the spaces in the Wineman and in the former Johnson’s for Children on Higuera.”

Clark also noted that new restaurants are occupying the spaces of prior restaurants: Tio Alberto’s, which is now The Wild Donkey Café; Cornerview, now Eureka Burger; Muzio’s, now Raku; and the bagel shop that became Croce’s pizza for a short time and then the Broad Street Tavern, which recently closed.

Associate city planner James David says he’s taken note of the trend. “We’ve seen a lot of tenant improvements that are from retail to restaurant,” David said. He also noted several existing businesses that have recently expanded or moved to bigger locations, like Creeky Tiki, Granada Hotel and Kruezberg, Ca.

Creeky Tiki and the Granada Hotel have expanded their current locations and Kreuzberg, Ca moved from 870 Monterey St. to 685 Higuera St. in August. City officials say despite the challenging economy, the downtown area remains a desirable location for business owners.

Only a handful of new business applications are pending for 2012, but officials in the city’s Economic Development Department say that will likely change.

“The downtown continues to be a strong draw for tourists and for merchants who benefit from tourism activities,” Clark said. “It continues to expand at the edges, making room for all types of businesses. This expansion is expected to continue with the Chinatown and Garden Street Terraces projects. Expansion will continue to promote growth in all sectors of our downtown businesses.”