NEWPORT BEACH -- A local restaurant that the Zagat Survey called a
lively place where the sizzling late night scene "draws short skirts and
long lines after dark" closed its doors a week ago.
Aysia 101 was a "gorgeous site" on West Coast Highway's Mariner's Mile
that enchanted visitors with its sprawling, spectacularly decorated,
waterfront property, said Richard Luehrs, president of the Newport Beach
Chamber of Commerce.
"It was a huge space, about 27,000 square feet," he said. "It started
off as a restaurant but eventually became more of a night club."
The chamber hosted several events and after-hours parties at Aysia,
Randy Teffeteller, chief executive of the management company that ran
Aysia 101, was not available for comment Wednesday. Hospitality
Management Group also operates two other Newport Beach restaurants --
Newport Fish Co., formerly Buzz, and Bistro 201.
Luehrs said the operating costs for a huge piece of property by the
water is enough to drive anybody out of business.
"It's a big nut to crack," he said. "Because of its access to the
water, it's pretty expensive real estate. I would think we're going to
need a high-end restaurant to occupy a space like that."
The owner of the property, according to the North American Title Co.,
was listed as Prott Inc., based in Granada Hills.
Scott Stickler, chef at the Chart House, a restaurant next to Aysia
101, said he was surprised the place closed shop suddenly.
"But then I'm not really surprised now because the rent for that space
has got to be very, very high," he said.
Stickler noted that John Dominus, another restaurant that was in the
same property before Aysia, met with the same fate as its successor.
"To me, it doesn't make financial sense operating just one restaurant
in a space like that," he said.
Prime waterfront property such as space on Mariner's Mile could go for
anywhere between $2.50 to $4 per square foot, said Newport Beach real
estate broker Devin Pourian.
"The building where Aysia 101 was, I'd say, would be on the higher end
of that range," he said.
Pourian said with the economic downturn, however, it is only a matter
of time before real estate values go down too.
But the rent apparently is not the only issue. It has been a rough
time for all restaurants in the city with tourist traffic slowing down
after the terrorist attacks, said Clayton Shurley, president of the
Newport Beach Restaurants Assn.
"It's been hard enough to survive in a normal atmosphere," he said.
Add to that the high rent on Coast Highway and a restaurant that seats
hundreds of people, and you have a colossal business to take care of,
"I can only guess why Aysia 101 closed," he said. "They did a great
job, but it's been so difficult for everybody. They may have just made a
* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at
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