The Cambrian

Plans for additional work at former Hamlet restaurant north of Cambria OK'd by county planners

Work on the building that housed The Hamlet restaurant is continuing under a permit issued in 2012. County planners approved additional remodeling work in several auxiliary buildings, some of which will change use.
Work on the building that housed The Hamlet restaurant is continuing under a permit issued in 2012. County planners approved additional remodeling work in several auxiliary buildings, some of which will change use.

Remodeling at the former home of The Hamlet restaurant north of Cambria can go ahead, county planners said June 6, but a neighbor is expected to appeal that ruling to county supervisors.

The minor use permit approved by county planner Mike Wulkan for the 3.1-acre site overlooking Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean just north of Moonstone Beach includes a number of conditions. Renovation of the two-story main building, former home to The Hamlet, can proceed under a permit granted in 2012 to Centrally Grown owner Dave Robertson.

Wulkan said conditions address such concerns as “the use of the ‘accessory’ restaurant building, temporary events and noise, lighting in the parking lot and drainage.”

One accessory building which used to house a day spa and wine tasting facility, had been proposed for use as a seasonal, stand-alone restaurant. Wulkan ruled that no commercial kitchen facilities will be allowed in that structure, which will be limited to use as overflow seating for the main restaurant and for banquet seating.

Robertson bought the property and its buildings for $2.475 million in 2012. The site is bordered on the south by a large residential estate owned by Khosro Khaloghli, on the north by Hearst San Simeon State Park and on the west by Highway 1.

The project at 7432 Exotic Garden Drive includes interior and exterior structural modifications to the existing complex, along with a change of use for an existing caretaker residence and commercial storage structure, which would then be zoned commercial retail. Among the proposed remodeling plans is converting several side buildings into extensions of the restaurant, adding decks and changes to bring the structures into compliance with current requirements, and a new children’s play structure. One residence could be used as a vacation rental.

There will be 75 parking spaces, including an unpaved “overflow” parking area.

However, the remodeling can’t start yet. The permit approval can be appealed within 15 days to county supervisors. If it is not appealed Centrally Grown may proceed with the project.

Some community members have had concerns about the conversion, saying what had been a restaurant with showplace garden and such events as a regularly scheduled jazz-concert series is now expected to be a destination in itself, generating more intense lighting, traffic and parking issues.

Among those concerned citizens is Khaloghli, whose request that planners review 31 separate issues, including a declaration that the project wouldn’t negatively affect the environment, triggered the full hearing June 6. He and his assistant Celeste Goyer were among those who spoke during the hearing, as did a couple of members of the public and Jamie Kirk, who spoke for project owner Robertson.

After the hearing, Khaloghli told some other members of the public that he plans to appeal Wulkan’s decision to the board of supervisors.

Original uses established in 1961 included two single-family homes, a commercial gift shop, a commercial nursery and demonstration garden. A permit approved in 1980 allowed a restaurant, cocktail lounge, retail shop and other accessory uses, including special events that ultimately included meetings, weddings and jazz concerts. Subsequent on-site businesses included a day spa, retail art gallery and retail nursery.

The site included nine structures, parking areas and the extensive ornamental landscaping for which Exotic Gardens and The Hamlet were noted.

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Centrally Grown has announced it will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at the former site of The Hamlet restaurant, 7432 Exotic Garden Drive, just north of Cambria at the northern intersection of Highway 1 and Moonstone Beach Drive. Positions available include everything from dishwasher to sous chef to market manager to line cook to “stocking associate” and cashier. Applicants should bring their resume. A Centrally Grown employee indicated plans are for opening in late summer or fall..