2010 saw 13 new venues; Oxbow market sees surgeClick for list of restaurant openings in downtown Napa since late 2009
NAPA -- Downtown Napa has seen 13 restaurant openings since December 2009.
This year, 2010, was a "banner year" for restaurant openings, which dominated downtown retail real estate, but openings for 2011 likely will be at a slower pace, according to Coldwell Banker Commercial Brokers of the Valley agent Cathy D'Angelo Holmes, who has been involved with several of those lease deals.
"If we have four or five open in 2011, I think we will be doing great," she said. "In 2010 it was all about openings planned in 2009."
At this point, two restaurants set to open next year are Eiko's in Altamura Enterprises' Napa Town Center and an unnamed "high-profile" restaurant in the largest restaurant space at Oxbow Public Market.
The area now has 60 restaurants and 21 tasting rooms, according to Craig Smith, executive director of the Napa Downtown Association. Part of the increase is thanks to a move by the Legislature two years ago to allow more alcoholic beverage licenses than would be allowed a 75,000-resident city because of 3 million to 4 million tourists who visit the valley annually.
New restaurants run the gamut from everyday-priced street food at the vintner-grower Ceja family's Bistro Sabor to high-end cuisine at Masaharu Morimoto's sixth restaurant, Morimoto Napa, at The Riverfront.
Celebrity chef Tyler Florence's Rotisserie & Wine restaurant and adjoining store are set to open by early December at The Riverfront, according to a spokeswoman.
"You really have to be on your game to compete," Mr. Smith said.
It's been an active year for restaurant business, too. Carpe Diem wine bar opened in June, and business has been increasing since, including in the usually slower fall months after the winegrape harvest, according to owner Stephanie Kendall.
"Who would have thought that in mid-November there would be lines out the door?" she asked.
On the eastern edge of the downtown area, retailers, wine-tasting venues and restaurants in the 40,000-square-foot Oxbow Public Market have experienced a significant increase in revenue and customer traffic in the past 12 months, according to founder and Chief Executive Officer Steve Carlin.
"It's partly due to the fact that we're full for the first time," he said. "There is thriving lunch and dinner business. The farmer's market has been operating in the parking lot this year. There's more notoriety for the market and the tenants."
The market opened nearly three years ago, just as the recession was beginning, and there was a slow start in landing tenants, according to market spokesman Tom Fuller. But now the main hall is fully leased with 23 tenants.
Oxbow Wine & Cheese Merchants recently relocated to the main hall from the restaurant space, and an undisclosed "high-profile chef" is said to be about to sign a lease for that space, Mr. Fuller said.
Also adding to the profile of Oxbow Public Market is the May opening of C Casa, "An Innovative Taqueria" venture by Tulocay & Co. founder Catherine Bergen. C Casa was among 29 new Bay Area restaurants to earn the 2011 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand designation for under-$40 full meals.