A temporary closure has become permanent for a once-popular downtown eatery.
Recently, Bistro Sabor owner Ariel Ceja announced he will not reopen the Latin American restaurant at 1126 First St. His lease was put up for sale last week.
Ceja said he hopes to reopen the restaurant elsewhere someday, but will focus on a new online venture in the immediate future.
“I want to thank Napa for the years of support. We were so lucky we got to have Bistro Sabor,” Ceja said of the restaurant he opened in June 2010. “At this point, I’d like to pursue other opportunities. Eventually, I’d like to go back into the Bistro Sabor business.”
Ceja was tight-lipped about why he closed the successful business, other than to say the departure stemmed from a “dispute with the owners of the building we couldn’t remedy.”
Cole MT Napa Ca, LP, of Phoenix, an entity of Cole Capital, has owned the building since August 2011.
Last week, Ceja put his lease for the nearly 2,500-square-foot restaurant space up for sale. The five-year-lease, with two five-year options, was listed for $100,000, which covers restaurant improvements.
The space includes a small outdoor dining area facing Dwight Murray Plaza, which is not included in the square-foot count, said Michael Holcomb, the property’s listing agent.
The restaurant had minimal equipment inside but is equipped with an exhaust hood. Ceja thinks it would be a good home for another restaurant.
“I think a restaurant would be awesome because of the patio,” Ceja said. “People love sitting out there in the summer, bringing their dogs. ... It would be a waste if it was not used for some kind of hospitality.”
Holcomb, of Strong & Hayden Commercial Real Estate, said he has already had several inquires about the space, primarily from people interested in locating a bar or restaurant there. He said the spot is a prime location. He does not expect would-be tenants to be deterred by the seven-story hotel Todd Zapolski plans to build on First Street, a block west of the Sabor space.
“It’s far enough away and this property is close enough to Main Street that I don’t think it will be too challenging,” Holcomb said.
Ceja said he would like to open Bistro Sabor again, but would like to do so in a building he owns.
“I would have to raise money for that,” he said. “I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.”
For now, Ceja plans to start an online web application company that brings together his passion for Latin American dance, something that was taught at Bistro Sabor. He envisions a site that teaches users to salsa dance in their own homes, has podcasts and videos, and includes a directory of dancing locals and in-person classes.