It used to be a Carl's Jr. Then Lani Grille moved in around 2006, trying its best to fill the grand space, the biggest dining room in a restaurant-heavy island at the northwest corner of Bristol and Sunflower. Lani offered Asian-inspired Polynesian food, something the South Coast Plaza area lacked. But it ultimately failed.
Then Sabores Mexican Grill moved in. Now, after two years, Sabores is also tapping out.
Reader JB snapped the picture of the new banner of a Cuban restaurant called Bella Cuba covering up the Sabores Mexican Grill marquee last week. I noticed it too.
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Before it finally called uncle, Sabores tried the Groupon gambit and a buffet; but I never saw the restaurant when it wasn't empty. JB wrote that he also noticed this desperate listing on LoopNet:
"BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY ONLY - SELLER WANTS AN OFFER NOW! ANY REASONABLE OFFER WILL BE ACCEPTED. HURRY! Sabores Mexican Grill - A lovely Mexican restaurant and sports bar located across from the South Coast Plaza. Excellent end cap location in the food court. Includes all of the inside furniture and fixtures including flat screen televisions, beer, wine and margarita license, 2 fridges, freezer, oven, range hood, etc. Stainless steel kitchen. Prime location with excellent parking. Established in December 2009. Asking price is below start-up costs. Financing available."
Now we know who bit. When I went back Friday, the banner had been taken down and the restaurant is still closed with no menu or website for the new Cuban place posted anywhere. As far as how Bella Cuba will do, or more importantly, what it will serve (I'm hoping for some good vaca frita), only time will, once again, tell.