Like our California image, the Mercantile West Shopping Center has gone from boom to bust and is in the process of hitting the mother lode again. It has been the site of more business closures than any other retail center in Ladera. And just 24 months ago, the center was a virtual ghost town after 6pm.
Residents were beyond frustrated at the lack of desirable businesses. Then Stater Bros. opened a bright, airy new-concept store, generating traffic to the center all hours of the day and bringing visibility to the smaller tenants.
If You Open It, We Will Support It
Property manager Westar conducted market research to determine what types of businesses Ladera residents wanted. The feedback was overwhelming: quality food and drink. That clarified Westar’s task: find the right businesses. And find them they did.
Mama’s on 39th planned to open Mama’s Comfort Food & Cocktails in the Casa Ranchero space and Joe’s Italian Restaurant was slated for the former Cinnamon Productions spot. Both were experienced restauranters: Mama’s had three locations and Joe’s operated Pepino’s. Both offer popular, quality menu items made from scratch at reasonable prices and even have Happy Hour.
Real Estate Agent Amy Sims’ new office and Code Ninjas were already open, when the pandemic hit. Many businesses were forced to reduce their capacity or close. “It was a little scary. Numerous times I was like, what am I doing?” said Joe Moscatello, who co-owns Joe’s with his girlfriend, Denise Silva.
But both General Manager of Mama’s, Robert Corrigan, and Moscatello saw value in Ladera’s central location and access to surrounding communities and persevered with their plans. Local resident Abby Longo opened her cupcake decorating and party venue The Sweet Hand October 2nd, 2021 with the support of the deaf or hard-of-hearing community.
Brittany De Anda opened her beauty concept Med Lounge on October 28th to a huge opening and tour of her state-of-the-art facility in what used to be E. Madison facing the Towne Green Park.
Then, on Jan 28th of 2022 we cut the ribbon of Board & Brew in the former Project Pie space. Owner Jacob Clemons loved the strong family orientation of the area and said he is anxious to build partnerships with community groups.
The center is now packed with activity, especially at dinner, with residents anxious to try the new hot spots. These additions have helped unlock the potential in Mercantile West.
Give Us Wine We’ll Be Fine!
In Feburary, Rancho Capistrano Winery - with its popular wine club - will bring a tenth eatery to the center in the only free-standing restaurant space in Ladera.
The Mercantile West Shopping Center has quickly morphed into one of the hottest new venues in South Orange County to dine out and socialize!