SS 3-29 Social Tap Pub and Grill planned for site of the former Thai Star restaurant.

Makeover planned for Ventura's South Seaward Avenue

By Michael Sullivan 03/29/2012

It’s an eyesore you can’t miss on South Seaward Avenue in Ventura — boarded windows, graffiti on the exterior, hanging chains blockading the parking lots. It’s been a frustration of the Pierpont community and the city of Ventura for years. When a timeshare proposal was dumped in the mid-2000s, few ever thought anything good would come of that trashy but prime real estate property. But the time has come and the shell of Thai Star will be no more. In its place, a real estate development group out of San Diego has proposed Social Tap Pub and Grill, featuring around 24 craft beers, a full bar and Americana restaurant.

Matt Elson, co-owner of Social Tap Pub and Grill, said he has been working with the property owner since 2004-2005; and now, since the economy is seeing an uptick, it’s a good time to move forward with developing the property.

“It’s one of the only areas in Ventura that hasn’t been revamped,” Elson said.

The old Thai restaurant will be demolished; and the new family-friendly eatery will have televisions, a large patio and will be designed with an airy feel, with large garage-door roll-ups. The designs have been submitted to the city and the design review committee for approval. Elson said he hopes to be open by Labor Day weekend.

“Our goals make it a destination point,” he said.

Reynaldo Camarena of Ventura shares Elson’s vision for revamping South Seaward Avenue. Camarena has also taken on a new venture — to bring sushi back to the area. He is gutting longtime Mexican eatery Joannafina’s to open a hip and stylish sushi restaurant, The Sushi House.

Camarena, an artist and manager of Decker’s Outdoor Corporation, had been showcasing his artwork at local sushi houses when he met a sushi chef who would eventually work for him. The two paired up and did parties in Ventura and Oxnard that revolved around sushi, art and live music. When the property on Seaward came up for lease, Camarena jumped on the opportunity.

“It will be a young, hip place with a DJ spinning records,” he said. “It will be a great combination — food, art and music.”

Camarena, who has poured around $100,000 into renovations, plans to open the restaurant by mid-May. 


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Oh please say that this is true and it's going to happen! I've been walking by that eyesore for six years now and every year I hear another plan about how it's going to be torn down and redeveloped. And there it sits... along with the empty Whole Foods in Oxnard we were promised six years ago...

posted by venturamojo on 4/04/12 @ 03:26 p.m.
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