A historic San Carlos building will soon be home to a Spanish inspired restaurant owned by a San Carlos resident who plans to preserve and honor a founding part of the city’s history.
Christian Conte, 28, of San Carlos, has been working in restaurants since he was 17, filling most positions eateries have to offer, including working as a busser, bartender and manager. Opening a restaurant has always been a dream of his, so when a friend showed him a property listing for 1101 San Carlos Ave., he knew he’d be developing his dream close to home.
“I remember when I was 17 or 18, working out of restaurants, I knew I could do this for a living. I always say I’m not in the restaurant business. I consider myself in the people business, and it’s all about the experience,” said Conte.
The location on the corner of El Camino Real and San Carlos Avenue once was where the “father of San Carlos,” Frederick Drake established his office. Drake was a banker turned real estate developer who was responsible for the early 1900s development boom in San Carlos. Drake is also credited with coining the city’s slogan, “the city of good living.”
To honor this part of the city’s history, Conte has decided to name the eatery Drake’s Restaurant with the tagline “Good Eating Good Living.” Once open for business early next year, patrons of the restaurant will find breakfast options in the morning until 3 p.m. with small bites and “Instagram-able” craft cocktails offered into the evening.
“There used to be a lot of older breakfast spots available in the city over the years, but that’s ended. My goal is to bring that back,” said Conte, adding that breakfast items like corned beef hash and chilaquiles will be included on the menu. “I want to play into the menu arch of the city with a Spanish flair.”
While the outside of the building will remain untouched, Conte said, demolition on the building’s interior could begin within a couple of weeks following design approval from city staff. Parts of the interior being removed were left behind from when the storefront operated as an AT&T store. Due to the site’s historic status, design plans must adhere to strict state standards for the preservation of historic structures.
“I’m not touching anything outside structurally. The Spanish style buildings are the faces of San Carlos, and everyone who drives by knows that building,” said Conte, who hopes to develop the restaurant into a favorite of public transportation commuters.
Because of COVID-19, Conte said the development process was delayed, and work to finalize the plans has been done remotely with a historic consultant. After working on the project for over a year with the support of family and friends, he aims to open the restaurant by January or “February at the worst.”
“I’m a very hands-on guy and very family-oriented. I feel God is blessing me with a family that supports me, and I want to share that with the city and make a welcoming spot in the city for people to come and feel love,” said Conte. “I think that once we come out of [the pandemic] … and life gets back to normal, we’ll get out of this stronger than ever.”
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