Mexican art and furniture store could be replaced with another restaurant / bar

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Blanquel Popular Art, a long-established Mexican bespoke art and furniture store in downtown Fullerton, along with the nearby Plant Store, could be replaced with an establishment called World of Beer.

Florencio Blanquel in his custom furniture and art store.

The item was on the agenda of the Fullerton Planning Commission at its September 15 meeting. A conditional use permit (CUP) application has been made by Bijalkumar Patel & Dhaval Panchal and owner Carlo Terranova. The CUP approval would allow World of Beer, a new entertainment restaurant, to move into the storefront of 109 S. Harbor downtown (currently occupied by Blanquel Popular Art and the Plant Store).

The item was continued until the November 17 meeting at the request of the requester.

According to Rodrigo Blanquel, son of owner Florencio Blanquel, they first learned of the possible change when a public hearing notice appeared taped to their door at the end of August. The owner of the building, Carlo Terranova, did not inform them beforehand of this hearing.

“The owner gave the impression that he didn’t know what was going on, that he would only know after the commission meeting,” Blanquel said. “It’s kind of weird that he doesn’t know what’s going on. This is his building.

Terranova said World of Beer started the process to get a UPC before the pandemic, in late 2019 or early 2020, and then spoke with Blanquel about the possibility of the restaurant / bar moving in. He said he intended to keep Blanquel and the Plant Store informed, and was caught off guard when the postings were posted on these companies.

“This is the part that I feel bad about,” Terranova said. “I didn’t know and someone told me because they read about it in the newspaper. As soon as I confirmed this was happening I contacted both tenants. But the post had already increased, so the emotional damage had already been done. “

Florencio Blanquel opened Blanquel Popular Art in 2000 in downtown Fullerton. His family has owned a custom furniture store in Guadalajara since the 1960s, and he wanted to expand his business to the United States.

Florencio Blanquel outside the company he has run for 20 years in downtown Fullerton.

Florencio manufactures and imports custom furniture. He also sells Mexican pottery and other works of art. It exhibits and sells works by local artists.

“This is something my family, my father, has invested a lot in. He has invested a lot in the community, ”said Rodrigo.

Terranova says he is friends with the Blanquel and has helped them by keeping their rent low.

Florencio wants to stay and keep his shop where it has been for 20 years. Its ability to do so will depend on its owner, the planning commission, and perhaps the community.

There are currently around 58 licensed businesses in the downtown area alone. An administrative judge said in 2016 that there should be five liquor permits for a downtown census tract based on ABC guidelines and population density. According to a 2007 study, downtown actually costs taxpayers about $ 1 million per year in public safety and other costs. That number is probably higher today.

Blanquel said the current concentration of bars around his business requires him to regularly clean up vomit, urine and sometimes worse.

“I actually walked all three blocks of downtown Fullerton and you’d be surprised how many liquor licenses there are, over 50. What’s the point? Are we just saying no to the arts here in Fullerton, no to culture? “

Terranova said World of Beer is a restaurant with a bar, something akin to the Yard House. The CUP app requests that the business be open until 2 a.m., suggesting a nightlife component. He added that this area, the SoCo District, is for businesses like World of Beer.

“I don’t think it’s bad for the community when the right use is in the right place,” Terranova said. “The SoCo neighborhood, in my opinion, has always been intended for higher impact public use, and that is why, since we acquired the property in 2004, we have always intended to install a restaurant.”

The Planning Commission will consider whether to issue a conditional use permit for World of Beer at its meeting on November 17. The meeting will take place at City Hall (303 W Commonwealth Ave.) at 6:30 p.m. Members of the public can make public comments. Contact the City Clerk at (714) 738-6350.

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