With property in San Diego County at a premium, Cohn Restaurant Group positioned its 10,000-sq.-ft. Vintana Wine + Dine restaurant with 20,000 sq. ft. of outdoor terraces on top of a Lexus dealership.
The average American consumer is used to experiencing stand-alone car dealerships – a destination property typically comprised of a single large building featuring a formal showroom of the hottest car models, a service/repair shop located around the back or side, and acres of new and previously owned cars for sale.
Turning that business model on its head is a new mixed-use property called “The Centre” at Lexus Escondido, Calif., a multimillion-dollar joint venture between Judy Jones-Cone, owner of The Centre, and the husband-and-wife duo of David and Leslie Cohn of Cohn Restaurant Group.
At the core of the three-story building is the Lexus Escondido, a full-service award-winning Lexus dealership. The goal of The Centre is to ultimately offer a unique collection of shops and services where customers can drop their cars off for service, take in a concert, enjoy dinner with friends, host an event or an off-site meeting, or shop at a favorite boutique — all in one place.
Not yet complete with its full roster of tenants, the 326,000-sq.-ft. state-of-the-art facility transports visitors (via a glass elevator) to conveniences and amenities such as a golf simulator, a learning center, a private library, a children’s area, a business center equipped with plus conference rooms, retail shops, and more than 20,000 square feet of event space — complete with outdoor fire pits that can be used for concerts, weddings, banquets, and more.
There are currently two high-end retail tenants on the second floor: Third Bloom Floral & Gift Shop, which offers Voluspa candles, gourmet chocolate, hand-crafted cards, plants and florals, and hosts unique events such as the Orfila Winery Bridal Show; and Lux Ave Boutique, a purveyor of women’s and men’s apparel and accessories. Additional luxury retailers will join the mix in the months ahead.
The third – and top – floor is home to the Cohn Restaurant Group’s Vintana Wine + Dine, under the culinary guidance of chef Deborah Scott and accessible by its own elevator. With stunning views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and Elfin Forest Reserve, this new 10,000-sq.-ft. semi-casual upscale restaurant has an additional 20,000 sq. ft. of outdoor terraces available for dining and entertainment. Plus, there is an adjacent 8,500-sq.-ft. of private meeting, event, and banquet space.
Since the design and cuisine for Vintana is deliberately eclectic, contemporary, and “California Modern” in style, it stands to reason that the lighting should be, too. In addition to satisfying the requisite Title 24 requirements, the restaurant employs other carbon-lowering techniques such as photocells, electronic timers, and lighting controls.
Yet through the eclectic mix there is consistency. For example, the suspended linear, dimmable 37-watt MR16s on the low-voltage monorail track lighting system provide subtle, non-glare, “sparkle” effects above the dual-level banquettes. The same lamping is used in the custom bubble-glass chandeliers over the dining tables in the main dining room.
Wine-barrel chandeliers lit with low-watt candelabra bulbs in the entryway are echoed in the wine retail area, while recessed downlights in the dining room and lobby use low-watt PAR-20/CAPIR/NSP-10 spot-light sources. In a notable contrast to many interior lighting solutions offered today, there is minimal use of LED lighting except for puck lights in the wall niches.
Explains lighting designer Rosemarie Allaire, IALD, MIES of Rosemarie Allaire Lighting Design in Dana Point, Calif., the greatest lighting challenge was meeting the budget for the large interior. Fortunately, the interior designer provided many of the lamps and decorative lighting fixtures, which helped alleviate the cost of the overall architectural lighting budget.
The low-voltage track system in the main dining room is from Tech Lighting, while the custom Bubble Glass pendants are from Kalco. The interior designer provided the wine barrel lighting fixtures in the private dining room as well as the decorative hand-blown clear glass pendants in the retail area. Recessed lighting from Bega was specified for the main dining area while Cooper 2′ x 2′ fluorescent fixtures illuminate the kitchen and the back of house area.
“The design vision for the project was to create an open environment for views during the day, and create an intimate setting for dining in the evening,” Allaire says. This was achieved by linear track with low-wattage halogen sources aimed at tables to create a warm inviting ambiance and task lighting for dining in conjunction with table lamps at the banquettes. The custom bubble glass fixtures provide a warm glow over the tables by the window area with dimmed halogen sources.
With space at a premium, mixed-use buildings are on the rise in most major cities. The Centre at Lexus Escondido demonstrates a novel approach that could easily inspire other projects going forward.
Project At a Glance
Location: The Centre at Lexus Escondido, San Diego, California
Restaurant Architect: Whitfield Associates Architects, Dana Point, California
Lighting Design: Rosemarie Allaire Lighting Design, Dana Point, California
Lighting Manufacturers: Bega, Cooper, Kalco, and Tech Lighting