BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – If you’ve noticed new locally-owned restaurants popping up around downtown, you’re not imagining it. Several food and drink entrepreneurs have joined the game in the past few weeks and months.
Two years after the pandemic brought the restaurant business almost to a grinding halt, Bakersfield, at least, seems to be undergoing a renaissance of locally owned restaurants.
It’s like the first tender shoots of a new spring – entrepreneurs braving the infamously challenging mortality rate of start-up restaurants.
Courageous souls like Mao Granada, a partner in Mango Haus, a tropical-themed restaurant that harkens to his native Colombia. It’s attached to the Hill House Best Western Hotel on Truxtun Avenue.
To Granada, this mini-surge of eateries isn’t so much the pendulum swinging away from the pandemic as it is simply a case of the city’s coming of age.
“We’re growing,” he said. “Bakersfield is not the small town that it was. There’s a lot of new restaurants coming. There’s a lot of people putting [together] these amazing places very beautifully, and we want to be able to be part of that change.”
And yes, mango is in everything, including the fish tacos. Be ready for a pleasant surprise.
Brittni Brewer, a local real estate agent, is a member of the Innovation Lab, an entrepreneur-supportive committee of the Hub of Bakersfield, a grassroots pro-business organization. Her message – go out to eat.
“I feel like everyone is getting back out there and kind of checking things out,” she said. “I’ve noticed a resurgence in Bakersfield alone with new restaurants showing up. Radio Sandwich is here, the Botanist popped up … I think it’s kind of thriving again. People are willing to get out there and feel safe.”
To that end, the Innovation Lab has organized Restaurant Week, from June 11 to 17, a time for participating, locally owned restaurants, new and old, to showcase their signature dishes or get creative.
Campo, the Botanist, Cafe Smitten, TLO Wines, Radio Sandwich, Locale, Sandrini’s, Adventure Awaits, Off the Rails, My Spot Downtown, Five o Two Coffee, the Padre Hotel, Mama Roomba, 2nd Phase, Ghila Dolci and Bottle Shock are among the participants.
And there are more restaurants on the horizon – Fredo’s Pizza downtown and new owners in escrow at the east side’s legendary Tam O’Shanter.
If you’re inclined to support locally owned businesses, restaurants seem like a good place to start.