The building began its life in 1910 as Security Trust Bank.

It was built to be strong, traditional and beautiful.

It's been through a lot in the intervening 108 years.

In January 2019, the neoclassical sandstone structure that a local historian once described as a "little Beaux-Arts temple" is expected to open its doors as The 18hundred, Bakersfield's newest locally owned restaurant.

"The floors are done, the kitchen is done, the plumbing is done," said Foti Tsiboukas, who along with his wife, Maya, purchased the building last year.

Outdoor lighting already illuminates the exterior design. Awnings are in place. Even holiday decorations adorn the tall, impressive windows.

But counters and tables still need to be installed, and many other details must be seen to.

It's been more than four years since the venerable old building in downtown Bakersfield reappeared close to its original form to the amazement of thousands of area residents.

The building's striking architecture had been hidden for decades — and mostly forgotten — behind an ugly wall of stucco. It once was on a list for demolition.

Now, after years of anticipation, the new owners, whose family started the series of Fabulous Burgers restaurants, and who operate the one on Airport Drive, are going in a new direction, although Foti Tsiboukas isn't ready to reveal the details of his new menu just yet.

"Mums the word on that," he said Wednesday. "I'll let people decide when they walk in."

Tsiboukas hasn't had much rest lately. He and his wife have a 4-year-old son, and a second baby boy was born just 2½ months ago.

"I haven't slept for 2½ months," he said, laughing.

Tsiboukas played soccer for Cal State Bakersfield and returned to the city with his family to continue his career and raise his children here.

He said he wants to do right by the building, and create a space people want to come back to.

The food will be locally sourced when possible, he said, but he doesn't want it to be too expensive.

"I don't want to price people out," he said last year.

Bakersfield resident Ben Mendez, who peeked his head into the building Wednesday morning as a lone worker stayed busy on the interior, said he's been wanting to eat there as soon as he learned a restaurant is going in.

"What a cool building," he said. "It takes you back to another time."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(8) comments

jey

i'm so grateful to the incredible people for saving and reinventing this part of our history. Too bad no one stepped up this year to do this for the legendary bakersfield dome.

Can't wait until they open!!! If they can execute on food quality and service, I'll bring all my friends and family here, no question about it. What an awesome story.

Stephen

What an outstanding outcome considering how close it came to becoming yet another vacant lot. That fate is what would have happened had not David Gardner Cross, AIA, on behalf of his client, not intervened and lobbied for its preservation.

This is in contrast to the demolition of the Bakersfield Dome brought to us by the GEO Group, a well-heeled private prison corporation based in Florida, who bought that property along with the motel between it and their property on the disingenuous pretext that having the two adjoining east side properties vacant somehow would improve security at their detention center.

Anyway I can't wait to patronize that place, remarks by "Debby downers" not withstanding. Oh, yea, in reference to the guy who thinks it'll fail, don't we recall the gaggle of naysayes decrying the effort to bring back the Padre Hotel, a facility that has since become a roaring success?

Concerned Citizen of Bakersfield

Will fail...put an In and Out there and now we’re talking

Django

New Downtown restaurants are breathing life into an otherwise moribund area. Why on Earth would you deny a success to a brave entrepreneur?

ontou

so you can only afford In and Out????? sad

jey

I hope some day soon you come to appreciate what makes our city unique, fun, and lovable. Bakersfield doesnt need any more chain fast food restaurants.

Rescuequeen

What a wonderful and amazing opportunity for our city’s historical architecture to be showcased and honored. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Tsiboukas for your commitment and dedication to our city and community by taking The Security Trust Bank back to its historical beauty and glory. I have a feeling The 18hundred is going to be a cherished landmark!

TimRoss

Looking forward to being among the first of your patrons. Very pleased with what you had done to restore this historic building.

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