As one restaurant kitchen door closes, another will open in Port Orange | News

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The Port Orange food scene subtracted one restaurant while adding another at the same address.

After just over three years, Coastal Grill & Raw Bar closed its doors at the end of the day, Tuesday March 22.

Dahlia Mexican Kitchen will move to Dunlawton Avenue, opening its second location in Volusia County.

When Coastal Grill opened in 2018, there were strong signs that the Port Orange location would be the first in a series of Coastal Grill and Raw Bar restaurants. The restaurant’s initial blog quoted Steve Papero, co-founder, president and CEO of Stonewood Holdings, saying, “We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to bring our first Coastal Grill & Raw Bar to the community of Port Orange.”

A second has never been opened. There are no plans to move Coastal Grill. In a Wednesday morning news release announcing the closure, Stonewood Holdings officials said, “The past two years have been the toughest years ever in the restaurant industry.” They believe the move “will put us in a better position to execute our business growth plan.”

The closure of Coastal Grill & Raw Bar has no effect on the operations of Stonewood Holdings’ other restaurant chain, Stonewood Grill and Tavern. Nor is it related to the recent purchase/leaseback agreement of the Ormond Beach Stonewood Grill location.

“Our brands from a Stonewood perspective are actually very strong and doing very well. We have absolutely no intention of closing any of these restaurants,” said Tyler Williams, COO of Stonewood Restaurant Group.

The purchase/leaseback agreement between Stonewood Holdings and the Bradenton investors was for approximately $4.025 million. Highlighting the strength of Stonewood Grill and Tavern, Mr Williams said the Ormond Beach location is ‘committed to a very long lease term’ and will in fact be doing ‘a very big remodel’.

Dahlia Mexican Kitchen is a family business.

Kabir Bhakta, his wife, Lupe, and a private investor form the triumvirate that makes up the ownership group.

Mr. Bhakta is still interested in developing the Dahlia brand. He mentioned that the opportunity to do it right now in Port Orange was a surprise. It was also an opportunity that the owners could not pass up.

“We always wanted to go to Port Orange,” Mr Bhakta said.

Dahlia’s other Volusia County restaurant is in The Shoppes at OneDaytona. They also own a Dahlia Mexican kitchen in Flagler County, a Burger Ten restaurant in OneDaytona, and a virtual kitchen, Gigabites, in Ormond Beach.

The Port Orange location will feature the same menu as the two existing Dahlia Mexican Kitchens.

Mr. Bhakta explained the menu as, “A modern take on Mexican cuisine.”

Coincidentally, the site of Coastal Grill was once a Tex-Mex restaurant, Don Pablo’s.

At noon on the last day of Coastal Grill, servers were busy answering calls for reservations and serving diners the local appetizers and Coastal Grill and Raw Bar craft beers made their name.

The lunchtime vibe was lively and didn’t feel like anything more than another day. Although a waiter talked about the closure via Facebook. “We absolutely loved our guests and our restaurant family, and we will miss it.”

Coastal Grill and Raw Bar had been marketed as “a social, energetic environment with live music” and that’s how they came out. On their final night, guitarist Ryan Olsen entertained as people hugged, laughed and cried.

Mr Williams described an “extremely busy” pace in the evening with a positive vibe tinged with sadness “Because the customers enjoyed coming”, he said. “It was really great to see people coming out in droves.”

All Coastal employees will be offered a relocation job application. Many have already been hired to work at Stonewood Grill and Tavern establishments.

Coastal gift cards will be promoted by the Stonewood chain.

Dahlia plans to open the Port Orange site by the end of June and will offer Coastal employees the opportunity to work there.

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