The long-awaited Yorba Linda Town Center has its first restaurant opening Tuesday
Penny Abramowitz strolled along Yorba Linda Boulevard on Monday, April 1, looking at Café Rio as workers inside were getting ready for the restaurant’s opening set for Wednesday, April 3.
For the 27 years Abramowitz has lived near Yorba Linda’s Town Center, she’s heard whispers about the possible developments that could happen there by Imperial Highway and Yorba Linda Boulevard.
“They always wanted to do something,” she said of the proposals that came and went. Concepts for the area fueled debates over the years, packing City Council meetings and playing out in elections.
But after the years of whispers and waiting, a 125,000-square-foot shopping and retail center, the Yorba Linda Town Center, finally has its first businesses opening this week. It starts with a Greek restaurant, Apóla Gyro Grill, which will open at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2. It will be followed by Café Rio and Peet’s Coffee. The grocery store Bristol Farms is opening April 11.
More than a dozen other stores are to open at the center in the next few months, including a Regal movie theater. A 446-stall parking garage opened in November.
“It will become the heart of the city,” Yorba Linda Mayor Tara Campbell said of the long-awaited center that is expected to help revitalize the city’s downtown core. Nearby Historic Main Street, with some of Yorba Linda’s oldest buildings, has been getting a landscaping and street face lift as well.
Several businesses were originally expected to open by early February, but the rainy season slowed progress, said Brett Foy, co-president of Zelman Retail, the center’s developer.
Workers on Monday were still finishing the landscaping and interiors of many shops. The Apóla Gyro Grill staff was busy doing the final prepping and cleaning. The construction crews working nearby got to sample the restaurant’s menu from gyros to salad.
Just a few hundred feet south, Elsie Watson, a trainer for Café Rio, was teaching her employees how to roll up utensils for catering. The staff of 40 was on its second day of training.
The restaurants are having “soft openings” this week. Official ceremonies – with all the pomp and circumstance – are still weeks out. But it doesn’t mean the restaurants’ owners are not excited about this week.
“We have been ready to open since December,” Apóla co-owner Yianni Kosmides said.
“They have been talking about this for years. It’s so nice to see it,” said Sarah Elliott, 83, who’s lived in Yorba Linda since 1975. “It’s good to have a place. We don’t have to go to Brea. We don’t have to Anaheim. We can stay in the city.”