The Cambrian

Changes come to Cambria’s East Village business district

Patty Griffin is moving her studio out of the old schoolhouse on Main Street.
Patty Griffin is moving her studio out of the old schoolhouse on Main Street.

Changes are afoot in some commercial sites in Cambria, including relocations, vacancies in “anchor” spots and modifications to long-established buildings.

That’s especially true along Burton Drive in the town’s historic East Village district.

In early March, Cambria Glassworks moved out of the ground-floor corner spot at 4090 Burton Drive (on the corner of Center Street), after having taken over the approximately 2,000-square-foot location soon after the closure of Seekers Gallery in 2013. Seekers had been in that location since 1983. (The sister store, Harmony Glassworks, is still doing business in that micro business district.)

Also this month, the Planet Yachats gem and mineral shop left the ground-floor suite at the other end of the same building.

And new business owners took over at the Cambria Pub, after previous managers John and Monica Raethke left. In late February, Monica Soto Raethke posted on social media that, after two years of managing the pub, they had been unable “to reach an agreement” with the building owner. “Our partners had given us first choice for the purchase of the restaurant” business, she wrote, but that didn’t happen.

The pub’s new business owners are reported to be Mauricio Lopez and Sarah Verlangieri of San Simeon, who are also involved with Centrally Grown at Off the Grid and Black Cat Bistro, among other establishments.

The Cambrian’s attempts to reach the new owners have been unsuccessful.

Brambles building

Meanwhile, however, there’s activity inside the former home of Brambles Restaurant, at 4005 Burton Drive.

Owner Dirk Winter said by phone Monday, March 13, that “we’re remodeling the interior of the building,” even though “we don’t have any solid plans yet, other than to make it into a viable retail space. I’ve had a number of inquiries” from potential renters, but no deals have been struck yet.

The revised building won’t include a restaurant, he said, because doing so would have required essentially redoing everything from exit and entrance to electrical, plumbing, heating and much more, making the update much too expensive.

Extensive work has been done and is continuing on the antique building, parts of which were built in the 1870s.

Winter said the first phase of construction has focused on bringing the structure “into usable compliance,” including on “an interior section that had some floor girders broken” and a sunken floor. The building was reroofed, and some interior supports and the flooring were redone.

There’s “a little more engineering we have to do as we complete the first phase, which we’re getting close to doing,” Winter said. That phase focuses “mostly on the central part of the old building.”

While many scheduling unknowns remain, he hopes that by fall, he’ll be able to start renting space in the first phase.

Old schoolhouse

Recently, Patty Griffin told her clients and friends on social media that, as of April 1, Patty Griffin Ceramics will open in its new location in the building that for some time had housed the former Moonstone Redwood Gallery, 1601 Main St. The building had housed a variety of other enterprises, including a video store, auto parts store and laundromat.

For the past seven years, Griffin has made and sold her ceramic art in the 1881 Schoolhouse Gallery, a building owned by the Lions Club of Cambria.

When Lions members began “serious talk” about selling the building at 880 Main St. and the land on which it sits, Griffin “began to fret,” she wrote.

However, she said, “things just fell into place” soon for her to rent her new studio. The building has enough room for pottery wheels and kilns, plus gallery space.

What’s ahead for the schoolhouse? The Cambria Historical Society has had a dream for years of putting the structure on Center Street, perhaps on the pocket park/vacant lot at the end of Bridge Street, where the Cambria Community Services District offices used to be.

And the Lions may be tired of being landlords.

“I would love to have the schoolhouse donated and located at the end of Bridge Street,” Historical Society President John Ehlers said by phone on Tuesday, March 14.

The society already owns the museum on Burton Drive, across Center Street from the Cambria Pub and the former site of Seekers. CHS also owns the Maggetti House (also known through the years as “the mushroom house” and “the blue house”) on Center Street. For years, enthusiasts have floated hopes for a historical district in that area.