Monday, January 18, 2010

Despite Recession, Café Sevilla CEO Says Gaslamp Quarter is Still the Place to Be for Restaurants

Eric Van Den Haute, the CEO of Sevilla, Inc., says that despite the recession, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is “still a thriving area” and the best location for businesses like his aiming for local clientele as well as out-of-town visitors.

Café Sevilla, one of the Gaslamp Quarter’s oldest and most successful establishments, just celebrated its 22nd year at 555 Fourth Avenue. Its two other locations, in Riverside’s Historic Downtown and on Pine Avenue in Long Beach, are also doing well despite hard times for the industry.

“With about 150 restaurants, the Gaslamp Quarter is the most eclectic area for food destinations, and 90 percent are still run by independent operators,” noted Van Den Haute. “Independents offer a unique dining experience to guests in a choice location, and we find that is still our visitors’ expectation. They come to the Gaslamp knowing they will find a large number of options they can’t find anywhere else.”

Van Den Haute says that this variety of choices is a draw for both locals and also out-of-town visitors who often come to the Gaslamp via the nearby Convention Center: “Why eat at a national chain you can find back home, when instead you can eat at a popular San Diego restaurant and make your visit more memorable?”

As for Café Sevilla itself, the tapas bar/restaurant/nightclub is weathering the recession well, thanks to a major overhaul of the menu and prices. “We have felt the recession, business is down, but I always see these cycles as ultimately positive, because they give you the opportunity to re-evaluate every part of your business and make changes for the better,” Van den Haute says. “In the end, the guests are the one who benefit from it, because pricing is normalized, and quality comes through.”

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