SOLANA BEACH — With the promise of a new name, adjusted hours and a handful of other concessions, Bradley Evarts was issued the necessary permits at the July 13 City Council meeting to move forward with what he describes as an upscale, farm-to-table restaurant and tequileria.
It was the second time in less than a month that Evarts sought approval to open the business he initially planned to call Distillery 101, which will replace Java Depot and Juicers in The Boardwalk shopping center at 243 N. Coast Hwy. 101.
When plans were first presented at the June 22 council meeting several area residents expressed concerns about the potential increase in noise, traffic, lighting and parking problems and possible public safety issues.
Most said they support a restaurant at the site. But despite insistence by Evarts and his wife and business partner, Julie, that alcohol would not be the primary focus of the restaurant, residents said they feared the name would attract a drinking crowd.
Julie Evarts said the business would not be a distillery. She and her husband were trying to create an atmosphere built around the idea of the time of distilleries.
“It’s really more about the food,” she said last month. “The name is just capturing a time.”
At that meeting the Evartses agreed to meet with residents to address their concerns and the hearing was continued until July 13, council’s last meeting before going dark for the summer.
About three dozen people, including residents from the surrounding neighborhood, shopping center tenants, city staff and the applicants, their partners and architect, met on July 6.
Evarts had previously agreed the restaurant would not ever have live entertainment, a DJ or speakers on the outdoor patio. He planned to add noise reducing landscaping on the west-facing side.
Following the meeting he also agreed to install a 12-foot wall, which he said will block 95 percent of the noise, with an emergency door only on the west side rather than a gate, as originally proposed.
Free valet parking will be offered to avoid noise and loitering in the parking lot, which is located across the street from the residential area.
“We’re going to pick up the cost of the valet service,” said Evarts, who previously owned successful area restaurants. “Typically in my experience in the past that pretty much solves (the problem).”
Evarts said he is also amenable to other recommendations, such as allowing access only from Coast Highway 101, prohibiting trash removal, especially empty bottles, late at night, minimizing lighting and adding signs to remind customers a residential neighborhood is nearby.
The restaurant will open every day at 10 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, midnight Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. Sunday. The patio will close at 9 p.m. on Sunday and 10 p.m. all other nights.
Evarts said he settled on the hours that were recommended by resident Victoria Cypherd.
Many residents said they appreciated the outreach and were satisfied with most of the modifications to the original plan.
“The commercial zone along Hwy 101 is maturing nicely and the proposed farm to table restaurants, such as Distillery 101, would be a nice addition to (our) city,” residents Bruce and Shirley Gresham wrote in an email to the city.
“The city did so much work to make a walkable commercial zone, I’m sure the city, and the neighbors anticipated projects such as this,” they added.
But several residents said they still had issues with the name, which Evarts agreed to change following the public hearing at the July council meeting.
“For a business owner, a name is an important thing,” he said. “It’s how you build your business. However, we have thought of another name to ease everybody’s mind.
“We have a name that is not involving anything to do with liquor,” he added. “It’s culinary, it’s Napa, it’s Southwestern and it’s a beautiful name.”
“I was really happy to hear you just say that,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said. “I think that would solve a lot of problems.
Evarts said he wanted to talk with his business partners before publicly announcing the new moniker.
“At this time I am not in a position to discuss our name other than (to say) we want to comply with our neighbors by addressing the concern,” he said.
“I know there’s not 100 percent agreement with everybody … but I think we’ve come to an agreement that will work,” Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said before the unanimous vote. “I do feel that Mr. Evarts is true to his word.
“He’s going to put together a farm-to-table restaurant that’s not going to be a bar and it’s going to be an asset to the community,” she added.
“We are destined to do a wonderful culinary place that the neighborhood will be proud of,” Evarts said. “We are excited to do something special which will become a valued asset to the community.”