If all goes according to plan, the vacant bar building on Camino Real in North Beach will soon house a brand new restaurant.
Richard Herdell, the owner of next door, bought the building earlier this year and fixed it up—though he’s waiting to remodel the inside until he finds a restaurateur who will rent the place and collaborate to make the motif appropriate to the lessee’s vision for the eatery.
“We fixed all the obvious defects in the building,” Herdell said earlier this month. “It had a lot of deferred maintenance.”
He said he was lucky that the kitchen was still in decent shape when he bought it, however.
“It was built in 1985 as a restaurant, and it was only later turned into a bar,” Herdell said.
Recently, he pulled the boards off the arched front window, dismantled the bar and spiffed up the landscaping and irrigation system.
“I’m trying to make it where people don’t say ‘oh, my God’ when they first look at the place,” Herdell said.
“What we’re inviting people to do—potential restaurateurs—is provide us with a vision of what they want to do: visual, food and financial,” he said. “I’d like it to feel like San Clemente and look like San Clemente. I’m purposefully not imposing any vision.”
Herdell said he did have one stipulation for potential lessees: No “Southern California upscale.” He said the trendy, polished wood-and-marble restaurants with high price markups and velvet ropes weren’t for him.
“You can go anywhere and find ‘Southern California upscale,' ” he said.
Herdell said that he bought the building because he wanted a thriving business next to his well-established art supply shop.
“I did not want to own this building, but I did not want a run-down bar next to me,” he said. “That’s a good piece of property, and it should have a good business on it. Heck, it’s got 19 parking spots. Where can you find a property in North Beach that's got 19 parking spots?”
He gave no specifics, but he said he's in conversations with several potential renters for the restaurant space.