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DOWNEY - Joseph's -- a two-syllable name both simple and classy -- was good enough for Simon Simonian.
"It's easy to say -- and it's my son's name," said the 42-year-old Downey resident with a laugh. "Basically, what we're doing is a hybrid...an ultra lounge with high-end dining where you can get a steak dinner and enjoy a game.
"This all got started because I couldn't find a good piece of steak in Downey."
However, Simonian and his two partners say Joseph's Bar and Grill, located at 11032 Downey Ave., is about to change dining culture in Downtown Downey when the Las Vegas-style restaurant opens its doors next month.
Simonian admitted he and his partners, Mario Padilla and Ali Rastavan, had their eye on the 5,200-sq.-ft. building, which used to be Granata's & Tapas, for the last three years.
"We were looking for a place similar to that...but we came here after Paul [Granata] sold it and noticed it wasn't busy. We asked if he was interested in selling," said Simonian. "A couple of months ago, he said he was looking to sell and the rest is history."
Completely remodeled inside and out, the new restaurant will feature polished concrete floors, dining booths made of stained hardwood, plush seating in its VIP lounge, and a patio space with a glass awning.
From a full liquor bar made of onyx stone, enhanced with LED lighting to more than 50 large-screen TVs positioned around the restaurant, Joseph's Bar & Grill promises guests a place where luxury and economy meet.
"We talked to the Granata family and they have faith in us. They allowed us to gut [the building] out and redo everything," Simonian said. "It's something unique, a little chic in the design and concepts -- it's due, the city is looking for that."
Paul Granata, who's family has owned the property for a generation, believes the new restaurant and bar has the potential of becoming an anchor for the downtown district.
"Anything in business is risky by necessity," he said with a grin. "But I know what I saw in this group -- they were confident with the financials and passionate in their ideas. That's hard to find."
As a Downey resident for 56 years, Granata says he's seen an influx of corporate chains snuff out many independent restaurants that brought character to the dining experience.
"It's nice being able to know you can go to the same restaurant in any city and get the same thing, but there's nothing like going to a good place and saying, 'I want to come back to this place,'" he said.
Responsible to keep people coming back is Le Cordon Bleu chef Saul Lopez, known as chef Tunes.
A five-year resident of Downey, Lopez was hired after Simonian, Padilla, and Rastavan saw the 30-year-old's cuisine creations on social media site Instagram.
"As a local, I have friends and family excited to see [Joseph's] and we're going to deliver -- Downey needs that," said Lopez, who is preparing an original menu for the restaurant. "We're shooting for an Americana style with a modern twist. Like instead of regular mac and cheese, we'll have chorizo mac and cheese."
Lopez said the restaurant will also offer seasonal menus with more unique dinner options for guests.
"It'll be very flavorful -- like they're going to West Hollywood," he said. "But they don't have to drive there or Pasadena, they can drive two miles and come to Joseph's."
While some might question whether Downey is ready for such a restaurant, Simonian maintains the demographics say otherwise.
"I believe Downey is very progressive. It's a very young city," he said. "I live in the city and I see people going out, they're looking for this."
Once completed, Joseph's Bar & Grill will open daily at 11 a.m. and close at 2 a.m.
Published: Oct. 31, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 29