Lotus Cuisine of India is moving out of its longtime location on Fourth Street, with plans to take over one of downtown San Rafael’s largest restaurant spaces.
The Indian restaurant is set to move into the former Pizza Orgasmica space at 812 Fourth St., said Lotus proprietor Surinder Sroa, who plans to buy the property. He hopes to open at the new location in the spring and plans to keep his current San Rafael restaurant open in the meantime, he said.
The sale is in escrow, according to Dirck Brinckerhoff, an HL Commercial Real Estate broker who has been marketing the property that has sat vacant since Pizza Orgasmica closed its doors in July 2017. A sign in the window says: “Future home of Lotus.” Sroa wouldn’t disclose the purchase price.
“We are very excited to have Lotus expanding into this prominent space downtown,” said San Rafael’s economic development director, Danielle O’Leary.
The site, which has a long history as a brew location, has been home to a revolving door of restaurants over the past several decades. A brewpub started there as Pacific Tap & Grill before becoming Willow Street Pizza and then Limelight. Rafters, another brewpub, moved into the space in 2004 and then shuttered in 2008, leaving the building vacant until Pizza Orgasmica, a San Francisco-based brewery and pizza chain, took it on in 2011.
The new space is a block away from where Sroa opened his current San Rafael location in 1998. It was his first restaurant venture, though he has since expanded the business with a location in Fairfax and another in his hometown of Novato. The move, he said, is bittersweet.
“I’m attached to it,” he said of his restaurant at 704 Fourth St. “But there are some signs telling me to move. It’s time to find a new home and make it better.”
Sroa said his decision to move came after his lease expired and he couldn’t come to an agreement with the landowner over repairs to the building. He made an offer to buy the property but was turned down, he said.
The new building is about four times the size of the current restaurant, and it comes with its own parking lot. A larger kitchen will be a major boon for the restaurant, Sroa said; about half of his business in recent years has come from take-out orders, and the kitchen has outgrown itself.
In the back of the restaurant, he plans to open an Indian grocery store. He’ll sell Indian spices, cheeses, lentils, beans and other imported goods. He also plans to sell Indian street food out of the market space in the afternoons, during the downtime between lunch and dinner service.
A combined Indian market and restaurant has been a longtime dream for the 62-year-old native of Punjab, India. In 2011, he opened a standalone Indian grocery store, Lotus Chaat and Spices, at 1559 Fourth St., but closed the market in 2017 to focus on his restaurants.
Moving will require plenty of legwork, Sroa said. He plans to sell the brewing equipment in his new space and convert the old brew area into a private-party room. He’ll repaint and redecorate the interior to look similar to his existing restaurant, he said. He also plans to repaint the building’s yellow and green exterior, which some San Rafael residents criticized for being overly vibrant when Pizza Orgasmica first painted it on. But he said he hasn’t chosen a color scheme yet.
“Lotus is a well-loved community favorite,” O’Leary said. “We are thrilled to see them grow in San Rafael.”
Source: Thanks https://www.marinij.com/2020/01/02/san-rafael-indian-restaurant-plans-move-to-former-brewpub-location/