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Sunday, Oct 2, 2022
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AROUND THE COUNTY




Compiled by Chris Hannigan

Los Angeles-based La Curacao, a sort of Wal-Mart for Hispanics, is set to open its second Orange County store at Lemon Street and the Riverside (91) Freeway. The retailer is building a store in a center already home to Lowe’s and 24-Hour Fitness. La Curacao typically builds stores of more than 100,000 square feet. It built a 105,000-square-foot store in Fountain Valley on Harbor Boulevard that opened in 2006. An unlikely pair of founders, Israeli immigrants Jerry and Ron Azarkman, started the chain in 1981. In 2005, the venture capital arm of Citigroup Inc. took a 10% stake in La Curacao’s parent company, Adir International, as a way to tap the growing Hispanic retail sector. La Curacao has a thriving credit business, often setting up accounts for immigrants with no credit history. It has about 500,000 active cardholders who make up the bulk of sales at its stores. The company’s stores sell clothes, jewelry, toys, cosmetics, electronics and appliances. The stores also offer Internet and long-distance calling services. Customers can ship products from the store’s catalog to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

On the southeast corner of Kelvin and Darian avenues, construction on the Essex Apartments is well under way. The Newport Beach office of Washington-based White Residential Inc. is handling construction of the 132-unit project on the 3-acre site. Wood Partners in Newport Beach is the developer. The project’s slated for completion by the end of summer. Essex Apartments will primarily be composed of one- and two-bedroom apartments, with some studios and three-bedroom units. About 20 apartments will be reserved for affordable housing. The project is set to include a 3,000-square-foot recreational room, pool, Jacuzzi and extensive landscaping.

Construction crews recently broke ground on a Coco’s Restaurant & Bakery at 27750 Crown Valley Parkway. The restaurant was destroyed by a fire in early 2006. The restaurant will be the first Coco’s built in 15 years. The $2.2 million, 6,911-square-foot restaurant is set to be done by summer. Dublin, Ohio-based WD Partners is the architect on the project. Massachusetts-based Timberline Con-struction Corp. is the general contractor. Coco’s is part of Carlsbad-based Catalina Restaurant Group, itself a unit of Zensho America Corp., whose parent is Japan’s Zensho Group, which has more than 2,500 restaurants worldwide. Coco’s Restaurant & Bakery’s dates its roots back to Orange County. It opened a small restaurant along Pacific Coast Highway back in 1948. Today, there are more than 500 Coco’s, including California, Ari-zona, Colorado and Japan.

A laser tag facility and restaurant are set to open at Kaleidoscope Courtyards by summertime. Laser Quest, a privately run company owned by Canada’s Versent Corp., will open its second store in OC (the first is in Fullerton). Costa Mesa-based Flame Broiler Inc., which has 28 franchises in California, also has begun construction of a restaurant at the shopping center. Newport Beach resident Young Lee is president of Flame Broiler, which serves healthy, Korean-style fast-food. He opened his first restaurant in Fullerton in 1995.

Amazing Grapes wine store is expanding into a former Curves gym in Plaza Empresa. Besides providing more office space, the 1,700-square foot expansion is “part of our goal to have the largest wine inventory in the county,” said owner Greg Schroeder. Rancho Santa Margarita-based O’Neil Management started construction earlier this month. Work should be done in a month. The expansion costs around $90,000. Competitors include Santa Ana-based Wine Club, the Wine Exchange in Orange and Costa Mesa’s High Times.

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