Across from the landmark Fox Theater at one of downtown Bakersfield's busiest intersections, a commercial property sale earlier this summer is expected to mean the arrival of a new Mexican-style restaurant-bar combination and the departure of a juice bar and health-food store.
The property in question, a 5,712-square-foot, one-story building at the intersection's northeast corner, has been purchased by the owners of Bocados Sushi Bar.
Bocados co-owner Luis Duran said Monday that the plan is to complete designs for the new restaurant, gut the interior and create a new eating and drinking venue. There are no plans to close Bocados, he said.
"I think downtown needs a good Mexican restaurant,” said Duran, who declined to name the business partner with whom he bought the building and co-owns the sushi bar along Coffee Road just north of Brimhall Road.
The H Street property housed two businesses until recently but now contains just one: Nature's Food Market & Juice Bar, owned by Chuck and Wendy Naus.
The store has been located downtown for 11 years but spent only about half of that time at the building that changed hands at the end of June. The Nauses said their plan now is to sell the business.
"The pressure's on us to move but we put all our resources in this building,” Chuck Naus said, adding that the couple spent heavily six years ago on tenant improvements such as plumbing and electrical work. "We're out of capital."
The couple recently arranged to sell the business, he said, but the transaction fell through. Now the couple hopes to find a buyer and train that person or people to run the business before it has to move out to make room for the new restaurant, which Duran said could open in about eight months.
"I’m a little nervous," Chuck said, "but I‘m a man of faith so i’m just going to hold on.”
A sign at the building indicates former tenant Henley's Photos has already moved out. No one answered the shop's phone Monday and an online listing refers to a new address on Easton Drive.
Henley's operated out of the H Street building for decades. The business was sold in late 2013 to Jimmy Bunting, who consolidated the operation to the property's eastern end.
Duran said he's not ready to declare what type of experience the new restaurant will offer. He emphasized it won't be a nightclub and that the menu is still being worked out.
Duran, explaining why he and his business partner selected the H Street property, said an opportunity arose to move into a part of the city that has seen investment lately.
"I've just been thinking and seeing," he said, "that downtown is growing.”
Representatives of the building's previous ownership were not available for comment Monday.