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Walnut Creek Magazine

Walnut Creek Restaurants: Open and Shut

Sep 11, 2020 10:13AM ● By Pam Kessler

It’s no secret the restaurant industry is tough even in the best of times—margins are low, overheads high, competition is fierce. Then came the coronavirus crisis, accelerating trends we’ve been talking about for years. The truth is, when this is all over, there are going to be winners and losers.

When Tender Greens terminated its lease with the city, scores of restauranteurs saw an opportunity to open downtown in a prime location, even during a pandemic. Ultimately the property owner, which is the City of Walnut Creek, selected Los Moles, a popular Bay Area Mexican spot, for the space at 1352 Locust Street adjacent to Bierhaus.

Founder-chef Lito Saldaña currently operates three Los Moles locations in Emeryville, El Cerrito, and San Rafael famous for modern Mexican cuisine, exquisite sauces, handmade tortillas, organic meats and produce, and an awesome selection of beers and tequilas. Stay tuned, we’ll have more details soon on the restaurant opening soon.

Four years after launching in the South Bay, the Starbird chicken restaurant group is expanding into the East Bay with new locations in Oakland and Walnut Creek, according to The Mercury News. Projected to open in January at the former Taco Bell space in Encina Grande on Ygnacio Valley Road, Starbird serves antibiotic-free fried chicken sandwiches topped with everything from kale slaw and fresh avocado to bacon, pimento cheese, and yogurt ranch dressing. They also do wings, tacos, and salads.

A surprising new duo emerged downtown—Montecatini Nights at Dan’sBar—two Walnut Creek staples partnering for outdoor dinners and drinks Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Now that limited indoor dining is allowed in Contra Costa County, Montecatini expects to open its dining room soon. 

Closed since mid-March, The Counter reemerged on California Boulevard for carryout and patio dining. Speaking of eating outside, SunriseBistro opened a newly-expanded parking lot patio along with a new menu featuring delish new dishes.

A business and social tradition since 1976, Scott’s Seafood has permanently closed its Walnut Creek restaurant and event space. Scott’s, like the popular Italian mainstay Prima Ristorante, fell victim to a changing dining culture that favors fast-casual food, high rent, increased competition, and a lengthy coronavirus shutdown. Sources tell Walnut Creek Magazine the Scott's Oakland location and Blackhawk catering operation will eventually reopen. 

Other restaurants, like Lemonade and Heritage Eats, remain in a state of temporary closure, working with landlords on ways to move forward or to close permanently. When we have verifiable details, we will report them here. 

For restaurant tips, check out Walnut Creek Magazine's online dining guide


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