SAN FRANCISCO Saying now is the time to be “nimble” with expansion, Lark Creek Restaurant Group said it plans to open four new concepts by 2011, including its first in Los Angeles.
The owners of The Tavern at Lark Creek in Larkspur, Calif., and Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas are working on a restaurant on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles, a seafood restaurant in Napa and two new eateries in San Francisco, including one at the airport.
The new additions will bring to 14 the number of restaurants operated by the multi-concept operator, whose portfolio also includes One Market in San Francisco and Parcel 104 in Santa Clara, Calif. Lark Creek is projecting $36 million in sales this year and expects to hit $50 million in 2011, with the new restaurants contributing as much as $14 million.
Michael Dellar, Lark Creek’s co-founder, president and chief executive, said the company has been avoiding the cookie-cutter approach to growth, instead looking for excellent locations and supportive landlords who will allow the company to find the right concept for the space.
Plans for the new concepts also follow the company's move late last year to revamp its original fine-dining restaurant Lark Creek Inn , which opened in 1989, to a more casual concept called The Tavern at Lark Creek.
“It’s an example of how you need to be nimble in this economy,” he said.
The first of the new restaurants planned is Moreton Fig, which is expected to open Aug. 16 on the USC campus in downtown Los Angeles. Named for two historic fig trees that will front the restaurant, the 8,000-square-foot venue will be the first contemporary tableservice restaurant on campus.
Dellar, who is a USC alumnus, said the chef-driven restaurant will look to appeal to both students and faculty with lunch tickets in the “mid teens,” and dinner in the “low 20s.” The restaurant will be operated in partnership with USC Hospitality, the university's on-site foodservice provider.
In late summer, Lark Creek is scheduled to open a seafood concept called Fish Story in the new Riverfront development in Napa, Calif. Dellar said the 4,000-square-foot restaurant will have a dinner check in the “high 30s,” and that the company is still searching for a chef. The menu will feature sustainably sourced fish and shellfish, following guidelines by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
Behind the restaurant will be a pier in the Napa River where guests can dock their boats. Inside, a 2,000-bottle, glass-enclosed wine cellar will focus on white wines of the region, and house-brewed beer will be on tap.
In the fourth quarter of 2010, the company next will open an artisanal pizzeria in a 3,500-square-foot space in Westfield San Francisco Centre’s Restaurant Collection Under the Dome. The as-yet-unnamed restaurant will be adjacent to the company’s LarkCreekSteak restaurant there. The menu will be developed by Adrian Hoffman, Lark Creek’s vice president and culinary director, who recently took an intensive pizza workshop in Naples, Italy, Dellar said.
In 2011, the company said it will open The Grill by Lark Creek at the new Terminal 2 in San Francisco International Airport. The restaurant, which will be operated in partnership with D-Lew Enterprises, will offer an American menu of sandwiches, seafood and steaks, some of which will be iterations from the original Lark Creek menu.
In addition to the new concepts, Lark Creek is also a finalist in a proposal to bring its four-unit Yankee Pier seafood concept to Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 5. The airport commission is in the process of selecting foodservice operations, and a decision is expected by this fall.
“From simple renovations in our restaurants, to completely reinventing The Lark Creek Inn as The Tavern at Lark Creek, the year of 2009 was all about building on a solid foundation and not resting on our laurels, even at a time when capital investment was generally frowned upon,” Dellar said. “We look forward to continuing to grow Lark Creek Restaurant Group with our expansion into new concepts and new markets.”