North Main Street restaurant shuffle

Sasa opens today. This Japanese small plates restaurant opens this evening in a historic, brick 100-year-old building at 1432 North Main Street that, once upon a time, was the Lawrence Meat Market. Local developer Brian Hirahara, the same developer behind Va de Vi, did the renovation, which will also includes outdoor dining. Diablo magazine’s Ethan Fletcher says he’s excited to try out Sasa’s fresh fish, which the restaurant says it will import daily from Japan’s renowned Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest fish market in the world. The executive chef is Philip Yang, the chef and owner of Lafayette’s Blue Gingko.
Le Bistro at 1606 North Main Street has closed. The restaurant, which says it served food inspired by the South of France, has a sign on its front window and door, thanking patrons for eight wonderful years.

–Cafe Delle Stelle is looking for a facelift. The casual Italian restaurant is located in the historic, two-story Sturm building, at 1532 North Main Street and the corner of Lincoln Avenue. This building, with its distinctive second-floor balcony, used to house the Melting Pot fondue restaurant. In the 1940s, the building featured The Nut Bowl Fountain. Historical records show that this corner, in fact, was the site for a variety of “fountains,” popular eateries at the time.

The owners of the building would like to alter the facade of the building, the style of which is called “1930s artistic front commerical.” The owners would like to make it more upscale Mediterrenean/Tuscan, with new details such as having a front entry way with faux stone columns.

The landlord also told Walnut Creek Design Review Commissioners that the restaurant’s owner is looking to fix up the interior of the restaurant to make it feel less casual and more high end. Hmm, it’s not clear, from reviewing the Design Review Commission records, if that means the end of Cafe Delle Stelle, or Cafe Delle Stelle in a new, improved form.

24 thoughts on “North Main Street restaurant shuffle

  1. Ok, so let me understand this. We here in California claim to be super-concerned about the environment. California is on the verge of passing AB32, it's own version of “cap and trade”, with the goal of reducing “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause climate change”.

    And yet, a restaurant is opening in WC which will import fresh fish daily from Japan's renowned Tsukiji Fish Market?

    Warning! Warning! Does not compute!


  2. Sasa says it features local and seasonal. That's the trend in top restaurants today. Fish coming from Japan may be seasonal, but it's not local. 9:03 a.m. You're right.

    Does that fish that goes to the Tsukiji fish market come from close to Japan, or is it caught on the West Coast of the United States, flown over there, and then somehow transported back here for restaurants like Sasa?


  3. It is idiotic, but many times the best cuts are reserved for Japanese buyers only, since they pay the highest prices.


  4. I'm happy that Le bistro is closing! The owner is not very nice, and was serving sub par food! I did a review on this place on yelp, along with other patrons, and he mouthed off too all of us. One of the customers was herself French, and he accused her of not being in his restaurant, and questioned her nationality. I since have become good friends with her, and we have had a good laugh at this place!!
    Walnut Creek really needs a great French Bistro, not a fussy French restaurant, just a good classic bistro, like Bouchon. I can't believe all the Vietnamese restaurants, at last count I think there are at least 5! First is was Italian, now Vietnamese and small plates???


  5. Importing fish from the Japanese fish market, what a bad start. Maybe they can pair it with 'Fuji' bottled water…..and have parking out front for your Escalade.

    And more Tuscany in WC. Hasn't that obsession been worn out? Let's pretend we're in 'Tuscany'…….Even Cheesecake factory remodeled the obnoxious Esquela space to make it look like a brothel.


  6. I don't want to beat a dead horse, but if you go on Yelp and look at Le Bisto's negative reviews, and then read Jean Pauls comments, you will get an insight as to how mean, this guy is. I don't know how much longer the posts on yelp will be on there, since the restaurant is now closed. I can't believe he is now going to open up a macron shop! Yikes watch out. He better hire a pastry chef, because that guys desserts were a true disaster in the restaurant.

    Has anyone else had a horrible experience there?


  7. Elizabeth,
    I too had a sub-par experience there. For being the faces of the restaurant and in the kitchen… they were a bit rude. I found the dishes to be over-priced and average quality. I only went once, and I do not know of anyone else who has been there. He's opening up another restaurant? Where? When?


  8. Readers,
    What a bunch of great comments in response to my rather superficial post about some restaurant openings and closings–and redesigns–on Main Street.

    Thanks so much for raising good questions. 2:02: Thanks for the link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's seafood watch program.

    Elizabeth, interesting observations about Le Bistro. I took my husband there for a romantic birthday dinner a few years ago, and it was very nice, but I haven't been there recently.

    Maybe, I was entranced by the whole idea of the French bistro…

    As for Cafe Delle Stelle, I, too, am wondering about the Tuscan/Mediterranean design aspirations.
    Tuscan/Mediterranean: a style trend that has passed, perhaps? Along with Southwest?


  9. Thanks Elizabeth for the link to Le Bistro's Yelp site. I generally do not pay too much attention to Yelp, because I usually don't know what's behind either a bad or a great review. In addition I understand people might differ about taste, but the owner's rude comments clearly show that he is blowhard and shouldn't be in the service industry.


  10. As a regular at Cafe delle Stelle, it is my understanding that the owner wants to greatly increase the rent and the restaurant is on a month-to-month lease and may be forced out. The exterior “upgrades” (?) may be aimed at the rent increase. In addition there was discussion at the Design Review Commission hearing of closing Lincoln Ave or making it one-way to allow more out door dining.


  11. I'm just glad Sasa isn't another Vietnamese place.

    However, I feel the whole, “We ship it from the Tsukiji Fish Market!” is a stupid, unnecessary marketing ploy. You'll get fresher fish locally. The fish you'll get will be at least a day old and cost more.


  12. Best of luck to Brian Hirahara with his new venture…Sasa. His restoration of the WC Meat property is part of an ongoing effort to maintain the charm and beauty of this city.

    As developer of the Va de Vi complex, he spared the oak tree that the city was ready to have removed. He has respect for the heritage of WC and I hope he continues to develop here, we need his vision and innovation.


  13. I'm sure the developer did a great job renovating this building, and I think Sasa can be a great addition to downtown.

    But thanks to readers who are smelling something off about the boast that the fish is imported daily from Japan, whether its from a famous fish market or not.

    This February 2010 BBC report says that actually 40 percent of fish available in Japan is imported.

    The question is whether fish sold at this market or sold to American restaurants, like Sasa, was imported to this market.


  14. Faux stone columns? On a fine 1930s building? Tacky and vulgar to the max. Yes, somebody please tell these guys that the stupid pretentious pseudo Tuscany look is over. Thank goodness.


  15. I agree with 10:15…I've always thought that building was quite attractive as it is. I didn't know it was built in the 1930s.

    Leave it alone…no fake stone columns, please.


  16. Climate change is a hoax and the State can stick AB32 where the sea is deep.

    You green beans should be more pissed off that whales are still being hunted and dolphins are regularly slaughtered during tuna runs.


  17. Jean Paul of Le Bistro was everything the negative stereotype of a Frenchman we have come to know–arrogant, rude, and pompous. His wife was the same. Good riddance! I hope he goes back to his miserable country and never returns.


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