Friday, November 14, 2014

Anaheim passengers will be able to drink their Metrolink sorrows away

Nano-brewery and "speakeasy" to open at new Anaheim train station

The depot, scheduled to open Dec. 13 (that’s 12-13-14, for you Lotto folks), will house under its three-story dome a handful of original concepts by intrepid Orange County food entrepreneurs.
Among them is Roland Foss, a former Taco Bell marketing guy who owns Mission Market. His grab-and-go convenience store, which has a location in Fullerton, plans to accept bitcoin. It likely will be the only food tenant open when ARTIC debuts next month.
Others aren’t expected to come aboard until early next year, including organic coffeehouse The Lost Bean, whose flagship cafe is in Tustin. Owner Bodie Rasmussen, who has been reluctant to expand “just anywhere” over the years, said he jumped at the chance to open at ARTIC because he’s a supporter of public transportation, having lived in Europe.
Like others, he also sees the potential: ARTIC is expected to serve about 10,000 commuters a day.
Leonard Chan, who has several restaurants in various developing stages across O.C. and Los Angeles, is opening three eateries and a barbershop at ARTIC. His most notable venues are Iron Press in Costa Mesa and the Anaheim Packing House. At ARTIC, he plans to open R.A.D. – a nano-brewery serving comfort food; Hive Bar, an “approachable” speakeasy focusing on hand-crafted cocktails and rare beers; and SILO, a healthy food and poke bowl concept.
Linh Nguyen, owner of Ritter’s in Santa Ana and Huntington Beach, is bringing his steam kettle cooking concept to ARTIC’s second level, as well as The Oyster Bar.

While it's a bit gratifying to see that there is apparently a good level of demand for the restaurant space in ARTIC (which actually opens December 6th, with the grand opening ceremony on the 13th), there's a real question as to how sustainable it will be since the 10,000 daily commuters estimate is rather overblown and dependent on buses that do not actually exist. Unless they're able to attract a lot of patronage from the surrounding development or from those visiting other nearby attractions, Anaheim's new train station will probably be quite empty by the time 2016 comes around.

That's not to say that it couldn't happen mind you. It could very well be the case that, by word of mouth, Yelp, and other means, the restaurants will attract patrons from Angel's Stadium, the Honda Center, and the City Grove. It could even be that they will choose to take the train for convenience with future trips because of the restaurant and brewery amenities as a pre or post-event meal. I am, however, quite doubtful that that will be the case. Housing, office space, or even a hotel (especially given Disneyland and the Convention Center and the planned streetcar connection) are far more likely to draw in additional commuters and to remain a paying proposition for the station.

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