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Restaurants and Farms - Temecula, CA


JWest
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Just seeing what everyone's thoughts are on Temecula. Where are the local farms, any famers markets? How is the dining? Would a very upscale fine dining restaurant survive there?

Looking for any information, opinions, questions, etc..

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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JWest,

It's not much, but here's a old discussion thread titled: Temecula Restaurants.

And a link to the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.

I'm not familiar with the Temecula area, let alone the wine scene. I was talking to a co-worker for some general info. Temecula seems to be an affluent area. Although it's located in Riverside County, it's closer to the North San Diego area than it is to the city of Riverside.

Depending how well the wine industry becomes, it'll be competing against the horses and all that pastoral land out there. And the developers are licking their chops on various building projects (current land law: five-acre lot minimum).

Double-check with the city of Temecula.

Are you just visiting and/or planning to move out here?

I hope this helps.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Having never visited the region for wine tasting, I can't really comment first-hand or offer my own personal experiences. However, my dad visits the area often enough and "raves" about the Almond Champagne, apparently a specialty of sorts for the region. Based on that alone I have serious concerns about the quality of wine they're producing in that region. I asked the California one of the domestic wine buyers at Hi-Time if they were stocking anything from the region and the only response I received was a sideways look and a chuckle. Who knows though? Maybe it's the next Paso Robles.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Thanks SiseFromm and rjwong ..this helps.

I am actually flying out there this coming weekend to look at property with a potential investor (who is looking to purchase actual property which will eventually be the home of a restaurant that my business partner and I will be opening).

I, myself haven't been to California and I am looking forward to it...as well my reservation at SONA in LA.

Thanks Again...and more feedback is appreciated.

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Temecula has grown enormously in the past few years. I think that many, if not most of the people who live there now are people who work in San Diego County and have fled to avoid the high pricing of housing. There are a lot of chain restaurants and a few locally owned places. I've never found anything exciting, but I haven't looked in a long time. Temecula has a minor league (A) baseball team and a nice little stadium. There are some decent wines made in the area, but there are also a lot of overpriced mediocre or worse wines.

There is an organic farm about 15-20 miles south- Be Wise Ranch. They have great produce.

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There are a lot of chain restaurants.

Sorry to take your quote out of context, but I really feel that this exact point is, sadly, the key to most new and/or burgeoning communities in suburban Southern California. Every time a new community pops up, so does the local Target, Baja Fresh, Juice it Up, Starbucks, Home Depot, and (fill in the blank). My wife just got a new job in a fresh business park in Irvine near the Spectrum. Her choices for food are limited to those that are owned by conglomerates and big-box style chains. It really sucks.

Maybe a proper restaurant in Temecula is really needed after all.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Fortunately, Temecula does have a Trader Joe's at the Promenade, off the 15.

NB Yes JWest, we do say "the 15" instead of Interstate 15, as well as "the 5", "the 10", "the 405", ...You get the idea ...

As for Sona restaurant, you can check out my recent post. I went for the six-course menu. The nine-course menu includes foie gras, among other courses.

BTW You might have to do some homework, but my co-worker was mentioning that some Napa winemakers have moved down to Temecula. I get a sense that they're checking out the soil, what kind of grapes can grow there, etc. The weather does get hot during the summer. There's a lot of foreclosures going on in SoCal at this time. So put your business thinking cap on.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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This is great guys, I really appreciate everyone's input.

We're hoping we can start up an independent restaurant using fresh/local ingredients and that's why I am concerned about local farming and farmer's markets but it sounds as there might be some nice outlets. Our goals will stay the same no matter where the location is and that's to achieve greatness by providing excellent service, cuisine, and atmosphere. So far with my research Temecula is home to only two mobil starred restaurants and the highest one is a Two Star, we're hoping to atleast 4 stars and eventually growing into 5 star status. Not saying that stars matter but just to give everyone an idea what kind of restaurant we are aiming for. It will be progressive American Cuisine.

Currently I am trying to get as much information on local farms, farmer's markets, and wine vineyards. Also, finding gourmet shops and food stores will be just as important to us. I am looking forward to flying in to California to see the selected locations that our investor has kept an eye on for us.

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Alice Waters created her farming community by asking people to grow what she wanted. Maybe time isn't on your side to start up grass roots style growing, but maybe if you really want those flowering broccoli, the fresh eggs with crayon orange yolks, the purple kale, the candy-striped beets . . . all that comes with creating the demand and the purpose.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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This is a very interesting topic of discussion.

I may be able to offer a bit of insight as well being that I not only work in real estate development but also have visited the wine country in Temecula on several occasions. I would definately agree with everything being said regarding the wine itself, it isnt very good, the Almond Champagne is somewhat of a novelty but overall quality just isn't comparable to any other region in California. There are nice wineries to visit and pretty areas but as far as serious wine programs and producers, it just isnt there.

As far as the development of Temecula, Sisefromm is right on with his comparison to Irvine, or I would even venture Ladera Ranch, or really even any new community built in the last 10 years, its all cookie cutter houses and chain restaurants. With that being said Temecula is an incredibly nice area and a very popular destination for people moving from coastal San Diego and Orange County. While it is currently experiencing some slowdown from a real estate perspective the last five years it has been on fire, so to speak. It really has become its own self sufficient community rather than just a suburban area to live in where people commute to other areas, (though it still maintains a lot of this).

JWest, Im not sure how much all this info really helps you other than to say your operation sounds like a great idea for this area, the area certainly has the population to support it and once the idea is out there, I think people would realize it is something that Temecula sorely lacks. Inland San Diego / Riverside counties do have quite a history of farming and offer a lot of great local producers, in particular the Fallbrook and surrounding areas; Vista, Escondido, etc.

"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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Chino Farms and a few others are known locally for their interesting produce, and might be willing to work with you to grow what you want.

Temecula is a 2 parter - old town is cute, touristy, smallllllll, and then on the other side of the freeway is suburbia which is expanding rapidly in 3 directions. Sadly, its accompanied by a several miles long strip mall.

Its not a bad drive from either Orange Country or the environs of San Diego - say an hour from either. Not 'drop in' close, but not awful for a destination. We'd have to drive nearly as long to get to Milles Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe. I can envision people making a day of it wine tasting and then a very nice dinner afterward. There really is no place currently in Temecula that draws us for dinner, even after a full day. We're more likely to head to Valley Center for ribs, or stop on our way past Escondido.

Good luck if you decide to open operations there.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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though there once was the beginnings of the wine scene in temecula, it really never produced anything of great distinction and from what i've seen, it's mostly died out because of pierce's disease, which is rampant in the area. from what i hear (and i haven't reported on this so i may be wrong) the few remaining wineries in teh area are mostly using grapes grown elsewhere.

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I was trying to verify my theory that Temecula is far too hot a growing area to produce wines of any serious aging potential. Unfortunately, I came up empty handed. I tried several Google search combinations but the only thing I really found was average daily temperatures year over year. I couldn't find anything on heat & humidity for the growing season. It’s basically a desert area, no?

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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there are some surprisingly good wines that come from areas we wouldn't think of as stereotypically "wine country." Eastern Washington leaps immediately to mind. And there's a very good sparkling wine made by Gruet from vineyards just outside Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Heat doesn't seem to be a fatal flaw as long as it is balanced by chilly nights, which are common in high desert climates.

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Good point. I do have a big question though. Can anybody here name any noteworthy wines coming from Temecula? Are there any high-quality winemakers? Have any wines received favorable reviews from the usual suspects? Are there any high-dollar bottles with Temecula printed on the label? I'm not trying to be an asshole about it, I just sincerely don't know.

Edited by SiseFromm (log)

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Good point.  I do have a big question though.  Can anybody here name any noteworthy wines coming from Temecula?  Are there any high-quality winemakers?  Have any wines received favorable reviews from the usual suspects?  Are there any high-dollar bottles with Temecula printed on the label?  I'm not trying to be an asshole about it, I just sincerely don't know.

in a word: nope. as i said, the wine scene there is pretty dead right now and, as i understand it, for the forseeable future. there are still wineries, but i think they are working mostly from purchased grapes from outside the area.

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Ive made it out here in the area..I visited Temecula today and also went to te Pachenga (SP?) Casino just to walk around.

It looks like we have a deal with the investors for a restaurant.

Look around in Fall of 07' for a small fine dining operation with extreme high standards. We will most likely start out slow with menu development but with the same quality and standards. No 20+ course meals until later on.

Edited to clarify that the restaurant will not be in the casino ...the location is still under research.

Edited by JWest (log)

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Ive made it out here in the area..I visited Temecula today and also went to te Pachenga (SP?) Casino just to walk around.

It looks like we have a deal with the investors for a restaurant.

Look around in Fall of 07' for a small fine dining operation with extreme high standards. We will most likely start out slow with menu development but with the same quality and standards. No 20+ course meals until later on.

California, here you come!

JWest, what happened on your trip? Did you make it to Sona? Tell us as much as you can and/or permitted to say (restaurant secrets, et al.). When do you all move out here? What do you think of Temecula and its wine country? Is that twenty questions already?

Anyways, congratulations! I wish you great success on this Temecula restaurant project. Keep us updated on the project.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Finding the right location will be tough. We originally thought about Temecula as the location for this project but have also thought about going more south toward San Diego as well.

If it is in temecula, we would like it to be away from all of the cookie cutter corporate businesses and strip malls (unless it suits our type of business). It would be nice to be out where theres nothing but just a view of the mountains.

In a perfect world we would just open right into Los Angeles, San Diego/Coronado, or even Orange County. With our budget we want to start out small but even with a big budget we would want the dining room to seat no more than 60 seats at a time.

We are going to keep an eye out for locations stretching from San Diego to Temecula and hoping to find the right place. Of course with a small budget we would like to find a location with a kitchen and hood vent in place.

We plan to find a place by August and moving out to California in September.

The question I have for all of you is .. Is it possible for a restaurant of extreme high standards of modern food do well in a place that only holds one restaurant of a Mobil 2 star restaurant and one Mobil 1 star restaurant? Can this project work in a place of just corporate cooking? All I hear from people in Temecula is that it's growing rapidly and that it needs a nice restaurant in town. My concern is that it's not a food focused town...I need opinions from locals and whoever else.

There's another way to look at it and that's to say people will come from SD and LA to Temecula to eat at this restaurant. If it's that good, will people make the commute?

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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It might be that people driving past Temecula will make it a stop, if there is a place to stop for a good meal. For example, we drive from San Diego to Orange County (and back) 6-10x per year. We'd probably plan the timing around dinner or lunch in a particularly fine restaurant, for one or two of those trips. Since we already plan Temecula around breakfast, it would be a nice change for us. But, we wouldnt detour 15 min away from the freeway, in this situation.

OldTown Temecula may have more of the feel you want, and its conveniently close to the freeway, tourist hotels, etc.

As for driving to Temecula for dinner - as noted above: Mille Fleurs is 45 minutes from San Diego, and is apparently doing well lo these many years. Temecula is an hour (except at rush hour) from San Diego. Not a big difference.

Good luck.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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The question I have for all of you is .. Is it possible for a restaurant of extreme high standards of modern food do well in a place that only holds one restaurant of a Mobil 2 star restaurant and one Mobil 1 star restaurant? Can this project work in a place of just corporate cooking? All I hear from people in Temecula is that it's growing rapidly and that it needs a nice restaurant in town.  My concern is that it's not a food focused town...I need opinions from locals and whoever else.

There's another way to look at it and that's to say people will come from SD and LA to Temecula to eat at this restaurant. If it's that good, will people make the commute?

I hate to put a damper on your parade, but I don't think people will make the commute. I grew up in Oceanside and moved to San Diego for college. At that point, there were a handful of fabulous restaurants along the beach in Leucadia and Del Mar and the San Diegans were rue to drive "out of the city." One of the most famous and prestigious restaurants was at the resort in Rancho Bernardo and San Diegans ventured "up there" only rarely. It is an oddly-centric community. One of the reasons I moved away was because traffic was becoming unbearable and the act of commuting in and out of the city not worth the effort.

And, as Russ pointed out earlier in the thread, the spread of Pierce's disease all but killed a budding wine community which has yet to recover. San Diegans and Angelenos who want a weekend in wine country are more apt to drive up to Paso Robles than they are the nearer Temecula. I also have really good friends who have lived in Temecula for almost 20 years and their property values have not risen the way they anticipated.

I wish you the best of luck and sincerely hope I am wrong. I did leave the area almost a dozen years ago and only know peripherally what has been happening up until the point my father passed away a year ago. I sincerely hope I'm wrong on my assessment.

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As for driving to Temecula for dinner - as noted above: Mille Fleurs is 45 minutes from San Diego, and is apparently doing well lo these many years. Temecula is an hour (except at rush hour) from San Diego. Not a big difference.

Being from Encinitas, I think there is a huge difference between driving 45 minutes to (already well established) Mille Fleurs in lovely Rancho Santa Fe and driving an hour to .......Temecula. I think you'd have to be pretty fantastic (and have GREAT marketing) to get SD people to do that.

That having been said, no question that they need a good restaurant. Just how do you get going and get the word out?

Good luck (sincerely), JWest~

Kathy

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True, the drive to RSFe is pretty, the drive up I-15 is not.

Marketing will be very important.

Temecula is also the touch-down point for folks coming over the mountain from Palm Desert. I dont know if they'd stop for dinner tho, an hour short of their destination (San Diego).

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Are there any other areas that might be of interest closer to SD?

or even LA.

Edited by JWest (log)

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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Are there any other areas that might be of interest closer to SD?

or even LA.

Not as inexpensive, but the North County area starting in Del Mar and going as far north as Carlsbad are all potentials. Give it up once you hit Oceanside; there was a fabulous restaurant there 25 years ago and while they stayed for a while (serving the best sweetbreads I ever had), they couldn't make it. Carlsbad has the advantage of having a few resorts in the area, namely La Costa. Encinitas and Leucadia tend to be looked upon as "beach" towns and for a while Encinitas pulled ahead with a few decent restaurants in and around The Lumberyard shopping area. All this goes for Rancho Bernardo; you have possibilities there but get into Escondido or Poway and your "draw" is slipping.

Los Angeles is a funny town. The surrounds have its pockets of potentials; Manhattan Beach but not Hermosa or Redondo Beaches (I am thinking of where the $uits have their weekend places houses). There is a bit of a wasteland of "fine dining" south of Manhattan Beach, through Long Beach, but when you hit Newport Beach, you hit those with income; they are willing to drive to Costa Mesa and Laguna to eat well, but not much further.

East of Los Angeles, you've got communities like Riverside. I can't think of anyone in Los Angeles who is willing to drive EAST for good food. West is a different animal -- somehow going to the ocean is more glamorous.

Something I would be curious about is Rebel Rose's view of the Paso Robles area. Its wine country has been growing by leaps and bounds and I admittedly have not been there in several years. THAT might be an area to look at...

These are just my impressions of California. Again, I was born in Orange County and lived there until I was 11 when we moved to Oceanside. I was in North County until I moved into San Diego proper for college. I left for Los Angeles when I was 26 and stayed there for a dozen or so years. The past five years have been in Northern California (Napa and San Francisco). I'd like to think I know this state having eaten pretty close to everything worthwhile from the Mexican border to the Oregon border.

Edited by Carolyn Tillie (log)
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