While a little behind the planned opening date (but said to be right on budget), Wang's North Park restaurant will have a “soft opening” on November 21, said co-owner and operator Joel Herzer in a November 16 interview; a grand opening is planned for January.
Energy-efficient kitchen appliances and lighting have been installed in the former JCPenney's building at the intersection of University Avenue and Ray Street, according to Herzer. To prevent sewer blockages, the restaurant installed double grease traps. The flooring, which at first glance appears artificial, is made of bamboo.
Herzer still lives in Palm Springs. He and co-owner Tom Eads have made many trips here to supervise the work. While Wang's in the Desert (the Palm Springs restaurant owned by Eads and Herzer) has a river theme, Wang's North Park has a tree theme with a huge metal tree sculpture in the center of the restaurant.
Herzer said District 3 councilmember Todd Gloria, other councilmembers, and North Park Main Street officials are among those invited to the opening.
Wang's is currently the largest restaurant project in North Park in terms of building size and budget amount. The $1,775,001 total consists of a $500,000 forgivable loan from the San Diego Redevelopment Agency, $450,001 from owner equity, and an $825,000 bank loan.
The $500,000 in redevelopment money was approved in June 2010 by 8 of 11 North Park Redevelopment Project Area Committee (PAC) members. Three of the PAC members, including the chair, voted against approval.