Outside of the emails I receive regarding the posts on this site, the most common email I receive is from San Carlos parents wondering why Laurel does not have more family friendly restaurants. I can’t disagree with them. San Carlos is bursting with kids and if you don’t believe it, just ask the San Carlos School Board. The majority of folks say that Sneakers is great, but they would like another option. Town does an outstanding job with kids, but it’s probably slightly more formal than what some are looking for on a Tuesday night with a three, seven and ten year old.
Given the demographics of San Carlos, why are there not more family restaurants? It all comes down to money. Very high rents on Laurel and the narrow margin of profit in the restaurant business has made it tough to find investors for a less formal family restaurant. When A Tavola became Town, they capitalized on two key concepts that work in San Carlos (1) they were not afraid to invest in the community; and (2) they knew their target. There is a reason the bar at A Tavola went from being in the corner of the restaurant and seating 7, to the focal point of the restaurant and seating 30. Town has been an anomaly in that it has been able to seat toddlers, couples, singles and another category that I will simply call “others,” and it works for all of them.
Many restaurants feel they have to make their money on the liquor. Judging by the constant capacity at the Town bar and Cask, it’s tough to argue this point. Facing the daunting road blocks of high rents and costly tenant improvements, the payoff of a family restaurant is not terribly attractive to many looking to start up a restaurant. However, the one factor that may be moving in favor of someone looking to start a family restaurant is the fact that (1) there is clearly an overwhelming need; (2) rents have dipped slightly; and (3) there are some prime spaces on Laurel that are currently open, and others that will be available shortly.
Besides the family friendly restaurant, here are some other suggestions that I have saved from readers:
(1) A microbrewery.
(2) AC in the SC would like to see a restaurant with a garden patio.
(3) Any restaurant which would offer live music.
(4) High-end Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar.
(5) A hamburger and milk shake place similar to Jack’s Prime or The Counter
Feel free to add yours.