Amar Santana Global Eatery Hall closes at South Coast Plaza – Orange County Register
The Global Eatery Hall, a multi-concept dining hall that opened at South Coast Plaza on January 3, 2020, will close at the end of this year.
It has been designed as a bar, a fine dining room called Crudo and a Mediterranean grill and a pastry shop / cafe. But opening shortly before the onset of the pandemic proved too much of a challenge, said Amar Santana and his business partner Ahmed Labbate, who also own Amar Santana’s Broadway in Laguna Beach and Vaca in Costa Mesa.
Lack of staff was the biggest hurdle, but supply chain issues and timing also played a role, the two said in an interview about the shutdown, noting that Dec.31 would be the last. day of service.
“It’s a business decision that was based on having a really hard time finding staff because the place is so big,” Labbate said. “The pandemic has made the situation worse. “
The 200-seat space was enormous, with 7,845 square feet inside and a 1,500 square foot patio. Laguna Beach’s Anders Lasater Architects and Menlo Park interior design firm Studio Padron have created a sleek, clean interior with white oak ribbed ceilings on the casual side and a barrel vault on the restaurant side.
It seemed like a perfect setting for fine dining, but opening two months before the pandemic didn’t give the concept a decent chance to catch on.
“When you open a restaurant, you need time to sort things out. Obviously the way to make the concept work is to need people who come in every day, ”Santana said. “When the pandemic started we started to see the decline and it was so fast. One day, the cutlery (individual meals served) was reduced by half. Then the next day, it was half. So all of a sudden we do so many numbers and then a week later we do nothing. “
The restaurant remained closed for much of 2020, Labbate said.
“We didn’t have enough staff to reopen Crudo, the gastronomic side. So we only opened the Mediterranean Patisserie and Grill and had a big traction there. It started to go up a bit, but the space is too big. And it wasn’t meant to be fast-casual only. … So these two concepts were not enough to generate the income needed to continue.
The Hall offered a mix of experiences with a place to perch for a fine cocktail and three dining options. You can have coffee and dessert, choose to sit down for a gourmet dinner, or just get a delicious shawarma wrap with sides and a bag of chips. Crudo hosted wine tastings with generous industry discounts on gourmet selections, but it wasn’t enough.
“We’ve tried everything,” Santana said, noting that due to difficulties in the supply chain, some ingredients were becoming scarce and prices were rising by 30 to 50 percent, depending on the articles. Along with these concerns, the industry-wide personnel crisis was hitting the home. “The dishwashers want $ 20 an hour,” Santana said.
New hires expected higher salaries, but Santana and Labbate decided to reward long-tenured employees first for their loyalty.
“We decided that we had to increase the salaries of everyone who was already working with us before hiring someone from the outside,” Labbate said. “So, yeah, it worked for Broadway and Vaca, but for The Hall, it was a bit difficult because we have a lower checking average than Gastronomy. So that really didn’t help us much.
There is one advantage to closing The Hall and that is being able to move staff to Broadway, which was only open five nights a week.
“We are filling every place we lacked,” Santana said. “So Broadway, we’re going to start opening again seven days a week.”
Did they think the opening of the new Collage food hall at Bloomingdale’s in the summer of 2021 was affecting their sales in the same mall? Not really, says Labbate.
“Any new place that opens takes a little bit of business away from you,” he said, adding that “every business attracts its own clientele.”
Both were convinced that in a smaller space, the Mediterranean grill would have thrived on its own.
Thus, Labbate is ready to move on but not before thanking its employees, past and present, and its supporters.
“The employees who work at the mall and all the shoppers. We really want to thank South Coast Plaza for their support, especially during tough times. And our regular customers are our backbone.
Labbate and Santana invite customers to have a last meal and a drink at the Hall, and not be too disappointed to lose this one place.
“They should be excited for us too,” Labbate said. “Although we are closing this restaurant, there are growth opportunities in the future.”