First Squeeze out, Bistro Sabor in

2010-03-05T00:00:00Z 2013-12-12T14:10:47Z First Squeeze out, Bistro Sabor inBy JENNIFER HUFFMAN, Register Business Writer Napa Valley Register

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.” 

Copyright 2016 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - March 05, 2010 7:13 am
    Very sad to see First Squeeze go. My family and I could always count on a good meal there.
  2. soccermom123
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    soccermom123 - March 05, 2010 8:31 am
    BIENVENIDOS! Although it is sad to see First Squeeze go (we'll miss you Chino), It's great to see the Ceja's expanding. I think it'll be a great treat for downtown. I can't wait.
  3. cordell
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    cordell - March 05, 2010 8:39 am
    Chino, good luck to you and Julie and whatever comes next. You are a class act.
  4. caycee
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    caycee - March 05, 2010 9:25 am
    We are all going to miss you Chino. Your pancakes were so awesome
  5. Truth be told
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    Truth be told - March 05, 2010 9:50 am
    Nnnnnnnnnnoooooooooooooooooooooo! How about this: First Squeeze serves breakfast in the mornings, Ceja comes in and does their thing for lunch and dinner. Win-win-win, yes??
  6. notpc
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    notpc - March 05, 2010 9:52 am
    The fact that a subway sandwhich shop is creating competition is sad in itself. How unfortunate that the owners of that building didsuch a disservice to downtown by allowing a Subway shop. Not much imagination or effort for the new revitalized downtown. At least go courting a Noahs bagel shop that at least offers a quality product.
  7. AO1982
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    AO1982 - March 05, 2010 10:28 am
    Yessss! I cant wait. I will be there for sure!!! Keep it up Ceja's, you are truly an inspiration to all Hispanics in Napa.
  8. gicastanon
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    gicastanon - March 05, 2010 12:13 pm
    How exciting! I can't wait to try Bistro Sabor. We will miss you Chino, First Squeeze always felt so inviting when YOU were there.
  9. nwnapan
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    nwnapan - March 05, 2010 3:39 pm
    notpc - Just wondering why you think competition from Subway is a bad thing? I liked First Squeeze, but it could get pricy. Subway seems to be doing a pretty good business so obviously something is working. I, for one, like the option of Subway, Small World, Don Perico, etc... Lunch shouldn't cost $15 a person.
  10. HerbeyProductions
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    HerbeyProductions - March 05, 2010 7:11 pm
    While it's sad to see another business closed, I'm very pleased and hopeful to see what's coming in its place. I had the liberty of meeting Ariel Ceja and his family at their winery one day when I interviewed him for one of my NapaCam videos. I was blown away by their impressive hospitality and they are a very warm and positive family. I've seen their video cooking blogs on their website and from watching them and visiting them in person, they really are very passionate about what they do and they do it very well, and are a positive influence in our community. And very family oriented. I think the Cejas do wonderful things and I will be right there to try their great recipes when they open the new restaurant! I'm very excited for the Cejas! Way to go, Ariel! :)

    --Seth Herbey
  11. John Richards
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    John Richards - March 06, 2010 5:55 pm
    I'm sad to see First Squeeze close. I loved to eat breakfast there. Do we really need another restaurant serving Latin American fare?
  12. Napagrrl
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    Napagrrl - March 06, 2010 10:25 pm
    John Richards, what would you rather have? A "whiter" place? Maybe Irish food, or English? The Ceja restaurant sounds quite different; it certainly doesn't sound like the typical taqueria, nor does it seem similar to the Mexican restaurants in town. Further, "Mexican" is not a bad word. You say we have plenty of Latin American fare. I cannot think of any "Latin American" restaurant in town serving something other than Mexican food. Please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong.
  13. junebug1
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    junebug1 - March 08, 2010 4:08 pm
    napagrrl -

    Pica Pica in oxbow. Yummy!
  14. larrysbird
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    larrysbird - March 09, 2010 6:45 pm
    Wow Napagrrl-you had to go there huh? It doesnt seem Mr. Richards is requesting a 'whiter' restaurant, only that he is commenting on the abundance of the all ready available 'Hispanic', 'Mexican' or 'Latin American' fare that is offered in the downtown area. You are blowing his comment way out of proportion.
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
  15. dsp
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    dsp - March 10, 2010 10:43 am

    Amazing how quickly some people jump to conclusions. I did not read anywhere in John Richards comment that he was looking for a "whiter" restaurant or dining experience. Also he would be correct in saying Latin American Fare and not "Mexican Restaurants" as you so brashly put it. Pica Pica serves Venezuelan food and ZuZu serves Spanish and Portuguese influenced dishes just to name a few. There are an abundance of restaurant's serving Latin American fare downtown and I can understand his comment. Within a couple of blocks there are over four restaurants. I am not against the Bistro Sabor but it would have been nice to have something unique.
    The thing I will miss the most about First Squeeze is the breakfast and it does not sound like Bistro Sabor will be filling that need for me.
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