Mariner's Mile restaurant closes

Deepa Bharath

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,

Luehrs added.

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,

Shurley said.

"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

business decision."

* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at

(949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at o7 deepa.bharath@latimes.comf7 .

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