Karen and Lucas Martin have insatiable appetites when it comes to the restaurant business and as a result K&L Bistro is about to gobble up two adjacent, vacated shops and expand Sebastopol’s popular eatery into something much bigger.
The Martins, who became first-time restaurant owners when they opened their French bistro at 119 S. Main St. in 2001, were recently given “an opportunity and an offer from their landlady they couldn’t refuse,” Lucas Martin said, when asked about the expansion. “We have a great relationship and she wants us to stay here,” he said, adding, “This all fell on our lap about two weeks ago.”
Hence the plan is to knock down the walls of what used to be a knitting shop, and next door to that, Mermaid Day Spa.
Martin said they are still in the drawing phase of the project — which requires submitting the plans to the health department and the planning department, and then waiting for approval — but the hope is to be done with the renovation by September.
A local architect friend of his is doing the drawing for the remodel, with the exception of the kitchen and bar drawings, which will be created by Castino Restaurant Supply, Martin said.
“The existing restaurant space will become a full bar. The kitchen will remain open for business as it extends into the knitting shop. There will be a small pass-through from the bar to what will now be the dining room to ensure a quiet dining experience. And, our landlady and her daughter will be helping with the décor, as they are both artists,” Martin said.
K&L’s menu will also grow with the expansion. Lunch and dinner will be served daily and the bar will remain open all day with a mid-day menu and possibly a late night menu, yet to be determined, he said.
Immediately after entering the business, customers will see a display oyster and raw bar, offering a variety of oysters, shrimp, clams, steak tartare, tuna tartare, and salmon rillettes. The other bar — the one stocked with alcoholic beverages — will offer six to eight local craft beers on tap, wine, and cocktails.
“The overall expansion will allow us to operate far more efficiently, as well as offering the ability to accommodate private parties and outside catering, something that has been challenging because of our small amount of refrigeration,” said Martin, who prior to getting into the restaurant business played semipro soccer and also worked as a cook in San Francisco.
“My wife and I both cooked in San Francisco for about 10 years. And then we got pregnant with our first child, got married and decided it was time to get out of the city and start our restaurant,” Martin said, noting, he always wanted to own a restaurant when he retired.
“I started working every shift I could get when I worked in San Francisco with a 10-year-plan to open my own place. Then Karen and I met and everything fell into place. … We enjoy cooking together and spending the time together doing what we love,” Martin said, adding, “The immediate satisfaction of pleasing customers is also a buzz. We get a lot of feedback from customers because of the open kitchen.”
There are 48 business licenses for restaurant or eating-places in the city of Sebastopol, which does not include the five grocery stores, according to information provided by the city of Sebastopol Administrative Services Department.
The city’s largest segment of sales tax is from restaurants at 18.7 percent, Administrative Services Director Karen Cano said.