Orange County Business Journal


Italian With Drive to Cook Realizes Food Lover’s Dream

Family Ties, European Training Fuse at The Ranch

It’s part of my job to watch what a lot of chefs are doing. Some, of course, are more impressive than others. Watching a fine chef open a restaurant and keep on doing his job so well that the public, year after year, continues to embrace the concept and the food makes for a great candidate for Chef of the Year.

Commercial Development at Highest Level Since ’07

Nearly 3M SF Completed; Projects Spread Across OC

Orange County’s top commercial real estate developers posted their most active year of completed projects in a decade with a variety of sizeable product types opening across the region over the year ended April 30.

Commercial Construction Up, Uncertainty on Horizon

Revenues Here Highest Since ’09, Backlog Down

Orange County’s largest commercial construction companies took in the most revenue since the Great Recession, although a shrinking backlog and ominous economic reports raise questions about the industry’s continued growth.

Hybrid Investor Offers Back-Office Operations

Irvine-based Private Equity Firm Steps Into VC Realm

Irvine-based Lotus Innovations LLC is a hybrid private equity firm that focuses on emerging technology companies and provides back-office operations and staffers to its entrepreneurs, both rarities in the sector.


Every year, the Business Journal makes its best effort to compile a list of local banks and lenders, in addition to investment banks. Some changes this year include Orange County Business Bank, which now operates as HomeStreet Bank since its merger on Feb. 1. Among other changes: Previously listed Johnson Capital Group Inc. was acquired by Bethesda, Md.-based Walker & Dunlop on Nov. 3, 2014; CIT Group Inc. acquired OneWest Bank on Aug. 3, 2015 and now operates as OneWest Bank, a division of CIT Bank, N.A. First Security Business Bank closed its single branch in Orange; FBR & Co. and CW Financial Services LLC closed their offices in Irvine; and Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP is now HFF LP.

Top VC Firms Invest 35% Less in Local Companies

Toba New No. 1 After Versant, Ventana Exit OC

The most active venture capital firms with local headquarters or significant operations and ranked by amount invested in OC companies combined for about $56 million in 39 portfolio deals last year. That’s about 35% less money than the top VCs invested in 2014 in about the same number of completed local deals.

Cities, Hoteliers Dig Data When It Comes to Business

Destination Marketers, Others Hunt for Ways to Stand Out

More local cities, marketing groups and hotel companies are using data to decide how to reel in new business.


Orange County is known for drawing visitors from across California and the rest of the country—and from many points around the world. Less attention goes to day-trippers, or those who come to Orange County without staying overnight, yet make a significant contribution to the tourism industry. The Business Journal’s Paul Hughes asked some local tourism and hotel executives about the value of what turns out to be a big segment of their business, and how they work to attract day-trippers to the county. Here are edited excerpts of their responses:

New Hotel, a Few Room Tweaks, Shuffle Ranks

HOSPITALITY: Great Wolf raises top 50 to 21,508 rooms

There have been a few changes on a list that rarely sees them.

Entrepreneurial Chef Builds Local Culinary Empire

International Fare Draws Clients Wherever He Goes

Chef Azmin Ghahreman, founder and owner of Sapphire Laguna restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, will be spending the next couple of months at patient-monitor maker Masimo Corp., tweaking the new cafeteria-style restaurant he opened at the company’s headquarters in Irvine.

Franchise Finance Phase Often Done Nontraditionally

Newer Loan Programs Join Loved Ones’ Help

A.J. Jafrey, founder and owner of Scoops N’ Scoops in Irvine, already had many of the elements needed to operate a franchise. He’d worked in a few franchises that his extended family owns, and he has an entrepreneurial education.

SBA Lending Up By Number of Deals, Dollar Value

$225M Provided, Up 31%, In 440 Loans, Up 16%

Small-business lending in Orange County continued to grow in recent months, based on this week’s Business Journal ranking.

Brokers Boost Sales, Leases for Sixth Year of Gains

Investment Sales Help Push Up Total By 16%

Increased property sales volume, particularly for larger buildings and land sites, in addition to gains in leasing activity, resulted in another strong year for Orange County’s largest commercial brokerages.

Top Property Managers Grow OC Accounts for 4th Year

5M SF of Buildings Added Over Past Two Years

Orange County’s largest commercial property managers’ local portfolios grew modestly over the past year as they made larger gains outside the area.

OC’s Top Deals Double in 2015 to Cumulative $3.6B

Creative-Office Trend Up, Distressed Deals Down

Local investors turned their attention to large fixer-upper properties across Orange County last year as insurance companies looking to invest here largely placed their money in more stabilized assets in a banner year of dealmaking.