With the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly behind us, Bistro D’Asia’s owner Alaa Elsadek should have been celebrating the survival of his restaurant. Instead he recently closed for good on Labor Day because his landlord would not renew the lease of the 20-year-old eatery. Bistro D’Asia, which served Asian fusion dishes, has been the place locals flocked to for Chinese food and sushi. Now Coronadans will be left with choices out of town and over the bridge. “Bistro d’Asia and its staff would like to say a big thank you to the locals for their support,” said Elsadek.
Elsadek explained his lease started in 2001 for 5 years with options to renew every 5 years. The B Street and Orange Avenue corner building was purchased by a new landlord a few years ago and it seems that Bistro D’Asia does not fit his plans. It was a shock for Elsadek to realize he had to close. His original lease expired this past May, and in March, the landlord told Elsadek he could stay until Labor Day. At the same time the landlord was seen showing the restaurant to two men. The rumor was that the Coronado Brewing Company was taking over the Bistro D’Asia restaurant space. Apparently that deal went away but the landlord is still looking for someone new to take over the eatery.
Recently Elsadek said he was contacted by the landlord who offered him to stay on a month to month basis with a 90 day notice to leave. “They said they would let me stay until they found someone else…they are looking for someone to spend money on the building, open up the place and increase the value of their building,” said Elsadek. He feels he was not treated well by the the landlord despite the difficulties the restaurant faced. The eatery earned $90,000 less last April 2021 compared to the same month in past years, but Elsadek still payed the rent in full and on time.
Bistro D’Asia, as every restaurant in town and the country, was deeply affected by the pandemic. Elsadek recalls closing on Mar. 17, 2020 and only doing take out orders, which was not very profitable. “Some days I asked myself ‘what is the reason for doing this?’ ” he recalled. Elsadek continued to stay in business because of his desire to support the locals who still wanted to eat Bistro D’Asia’s favorite dishes, and for his employees who have to support their families and children. Elsadek said some days he barely made $1,000, which meant he was not even breaking even. “With rent and insurance alone I pay $700 a day,” he said. Elsadek estimates that during the first month of COVID, he lost $80,000. By the end of May 2020 the restaurant opened again with indoor dining at 25 percent capacity and for outdoor dining. By July the restaurants had to close indoor service again during the busiest time of the high season. Elsadek put tables on the sidewalk to accommodate the customers and follow the pandemic county guidelines, but he was still serving half of the 150 people he could normally serve. Elsadek worked hard to keep the restaurant going. “It was tough. Personally I averaged in July and August  80 hours a week,” he said.
“Now that I was thinking things were getting better I can’t renew my lease,” said Elsadek. Before the expiration of the lease Elsadek had tried to contact the landlord to discuss a new lease but said he was given the run around. Elsadek paid $20,000 a month in rent. “My rent has always been on time,” he said.
Elsadek has worked in the restaurant business since he was 18 years old. He is originally from Cairo, Egypt and dreamt of becoming a professional soccer player, first in Europe then in the U.S. Although he came close to realizing his dream, things didn’t work out. Elsadek worked in a number of restaurants and later becoming a restaurant owner. In addition to Bistro D’Asia, Elsadek, over the years, has owned Bistro D’Asia in University Heights, Parkhouse Eatery, and a brewery and a bar called Monkey Paw - which he eventually sold to the Coronado Brewing Company.
The uncertainty of the entire situation, both the pandemic still not having gone away, and the month to month lease has driven Elsadek to close. “I don’t know what will happen with the variant. It’s the fear of the unknown, if I can only serve to go orders again, the rent will be the same,” he explained. “It is with a heavy heart that we’re leaving the place where we have served guests we have known for the past 20 years. I knew some of their kids before they were even born, they later worked here. I thank them for the great 20 years, but I’m moving on.”