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Toast Makes Debut at Tustin Legacy

2022 Restauranteurs of the Year Open Third Restaurant

Ed Lee and John Park, the Business Journal’s Restaurateurs of the Year for 2022, recently completed their restaurant trifecta with the opening of Toast Kitchen + Bakery in The Village at Tustin Legacy.

It’s their second Toast location (the first is in Costa Mesa), and third restaurant, including Tableau, which they opened inside South Coast Plaza earlier this year.

Lee is the co-founder of Tustin-based Wahoo’s Fish Taco, along with his brothers Wing Lam and Mingo Lee. Chef Park’s culinary heritage includes stints at LA restaurants Providence and Water Grill as both a chef and pastry chef.

2022 Delays

When the duo was named Restaurateurs of the Year last March, they were getting ready to open the Tustin Toast. However, it took longer than they anticipated, Lee said.

“We have been working on the restaurant for a few months. We thought we would be open before summer. We hired staff and were getting ready,” he said.

With a staff shortage at city hall resulting in delays with inspections, and some unforeseen construction delays, it took several months longer than expected to open the doors.

“Now that this is open, we can finally breathe and settle down a bit, and start rehiring people for next year, and maybe add new menu items,” Lee said. “We have been stressed the last six months because we were not sure how this was going to do, but now we can move forward and start planning things. All the pressure of opening the restaurant is gone.”

Local Crowd

Lee said it made sense to come to Tustin because some customers found it too far to drive to the Toast in Coast Mesa, and they did not want to wait an hour in line to get a table.

“This has plenty of parking, it’s close enough for Irvine and Tustin residents, and the landlord (Regency Centers Corp.) really wanted John in here, they loved the food,” Lee said.

“We are already doing numbers that are surpassing the Costa Mesa location when it first opened. Customers say they walked here. And by next summer, 1,500 homes will open within a 1-mile radius. The area is booming, so we don’t need a customer base from anywhere else. We opened quietly, put a notice on Facebook, and we were busy.”

A nice thing the Tustin location offered Lee and Park was an existing restaurant space, so all Lee had to do was add a bar and an office.

“This was originally built as a bakery for Pacific Whey, and we inherited all that equipment. I was so happy,” said Lee, whose restaurants sell dozens of pastries every day.

Menu Highlights

With Toast closing daily at 3 p.m., the menu is focused on breakfast and brunch items. Lee said the breakfast burrito and the fried chicken and waffles are the most in demand items on both Toast menus, although the tres leches French toast is also popular.

Other standout items include the BLT breakfast sandwich with bacon, butter lettuce, tomato, American cheese, hash browns, sunny egg, bacon fat aioli and a potato bun. Acai bowls are standouts for lighter fare, though all meals come in generous portions.

Next Steps

Lee’s plans for 2023 include getting back out in the community, meeting people and participating in culinary events.

He is also continuing his restaurant success with the opening of Fill in Fullerton, sister location to the Fill adjacent to Toast in Costa Mesa.

Fill features Mochi Doughnuts, the Japanese and American pastry hybrid that’s become quite popular with pastry lovers of all ages. They also make a crunch cake and a proprietary Mochi cookie.

“We did a soft opening last week with no signs or marketing, we just threw open the doors and it was very busy, customers said what took so long?” said Lee.

Oh—one more accolade for Lee and Park: Toast was just named No. 3 on Yelp’s Top 100 California Brunch Restaurants list.

Toast, 15080 Kensington Park Drive, Ste. 330, Tustin, (657) 720-1628, toastkitchenbakery.com ­

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