But the expansion is contingent on Hauer’s obtaining a liquor license, which could take several months.
Hauer, owner of the upscale, three-story George’s at the Cove in La Jolla Village, is one of three new restaurants eyeing expansion into La Jolla Shores’ commercial strip along Avenida de la Playa.
The expanding number of restaurants in the oceanside La Jolla neighborhood — which already includes a French and an Italian restaurant, as well as numerous delis, a pizza place and a sandwich shop — has led to speculation that the area is morphing into an international restaurant row.
Shores merchant Terry Kraszewski, owner of Ocean Girl boutique and a member of La Jolla Shores Merchants Association, said Brick & Bell Café, with an existing restaurant at 928 Silverado St., has signed a lease for a new restaurant site on Avenida de la Playa. She said one of the owners of the Islands chain is also building a new restaurant — not a part of the Islands chain — in the Shores commercial strip.
“That’s three new restaurants that are going into the easternmost block of Avenida de La Playa,” said Kraszewski, who sat in on the Hauer meeting with locals who were told the prospective new Mexican restaurant there has been tentatively named Galaxy. One guest suggested “Jorge’s” might be a better moniker for the new eatery.
Tim Lucas, chair of the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA), the community advisory group making recommendations to the city on neighborhood issues, also attended the meeting with Hauer. Lucas said a Mexican-themed restaurant with more causal beach attire is “an interesting concept,” noting most of the 30 people who attended “seemed to be in favor of it.”
Notable exceptions were some neighbors who live near the old Shores market site.
Barbara Miller, who lives one block from the site owned by the Kellogg family, said she has concerns about a restaurant there.
“While we welcome businesses coming into the Shores that improve the quality of life, we have serious concerns regarding the noise levels coming from the refrigeration system on top of the roof, along with the fan noise at the back of the building,” Miller said. “Adding to this are our concerns regarding the early- morning loading and unloading of restaurant supplies and food to the back of the restaurant, as well as the outdoor dining and music that is planned to include evening hours by the new tenants.”
Miller said her major concern, however, was with the “outdated refrigeration system and poor maintenance of the Kellogg building. We are counting on the new tenants, who fortunately were solicitous of feedback from local residents, to work closely with the Beach and Tennis Club to address these noise issues so that we can all peacefully coexist with one another.”
Bill Kellogg of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club who owns the old Market Building, which has been vacant a couple years, was effusive about the prospect of Hauer moving in.
“George is a great operator and we’re very pleased about this development,” Kellogg said, adding it was difficult to find another independent market to move into that retail space as “big operators, large chains are just dominating, they have been able to keep (profit) margins very low, which has made it nearly impossible for small operators to compete. We’d love to have another market in that space, but I just don’t think it can happen.”
Kellogg said Hauer expects to take about two-thirds of the space available on the ground level. He added the building’s upstairs level, which is inhabited by about eight different offices, won’t be affected. Kellogg said there’s about 9,000 square feet of leasable space available on both building levels.
Lucas agreed the market will ultimately determine what type of new businesses will go in on Avenida de la Playa.
“In this economy, retail shops are doing well, but there’s not enough foot-traffic in the Shores to support typical little beach touristy shops that do well in other communities,” he said. “So restaurants are moving in.”
George’s at the Cove chef Trey Foshee said it was too early in the process to comment further on plans for Galaxy.
Hauer could not be reached for comment.