Just eight months after Chino Yip returned to restore First Squeeze restaurant, the business has closed.
But diners in downtown Napa aren’t out of luck. Ariel Ceja of Ceja Vineyards announced he will open a new restaurant at the site called Bistro Sabor.
Back in July, when interim First Squeeze owner Tyler Anderson decided to switch careers, Yip returned to the breakfast and lunch restaurant he had turned over to Anderson. “I missed everyone downtown,” Yip said at the time.
The comeback wasn’t meant to last. “The restaurant formerly known as First Squeeze is no longer,” Yip said this week. “I sold the business.”
“Working three jobs, I was not able to put 100 percent of my energy into the restaurant,” he admitted. “I wasn’t creating new dishes. It got to be kind of redundant.”
Yip also works as the outreach coordinator for the Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space District and at Trefethen Family Vineyards.
While his breakfast business remained steady, lunch at First Squeeze lagged, he said. The economy and competition from the Subway sandwich shop at the other end of First Street hurt business. “It was difficult to maintain day-to-day operations,” he said.
The closing is bittersweet, Yip said. For years, he has been feeding downtown workers and families. “I’ve seen kids go from middle school to college. I’ve seen a lot of customers grow up. I’m sorry we won’t be there to feed them in the future.”
As one dream fades, another comes into view.
“It’s been a lifelong dream to have a restaurant,” Ariel Ceja said.
Ceja is no stranger to downtown. The winery owned by his family already operates a tasting room and wine bar just a few blocks down First Street. Scheduled to open in April, Bistro Sabor will serve authentic street food from Latin America and offer a robust beer and wine list, Ceja said.
He described the concept as “fast casual,” with orders taken at a counter but delivered to the table. Ceja plans to begin by offering lunch and dinner. Later, they may offer a brunch, he said.
Chef Jeff Murphy comes to Bistro Sabor from Davis and Fairfield, Ceja said. He said recipes are inspired by his mother, Amelia Ceja.
Items on the menu will range between $6 and $12, and will include both lighter and heavier fare, Ceja said.
In addition, “We’ll have a bar area with TV. It will be a lively ambiance with salsa music, and be a hangout spot but good for families.”
Ceja is ready to get started.
“It will be hugely satisfying to feed people food from places I’ve visited throughout the years and my mama’s kitchen.”