Thursday, Feb. 6, was an exciting day for Costa Azul’s owner Brant Sarber. A little over a year ago Sarber closed Costa Azul on Orange Avenue, a restaurant he had owned for 18 years. Now Sarber has reopened Costa Azul at the Ferry Landing to the delight of many loyal customers. The new Costa Azul is in the former location of El Roy and Candelas, a spot that features amazing bay views thanks to the floor to ceiling windows - basically you have a view from every seat. To celebrate the opening Ron’s Garage band played live music while locals delighted in their Costa Azul favorite dishes and drinks they had missed dining the hiatus.
Although Sarber has not made structural changes, the restaurant has the old Costa Azul feel. In fact the church pews, tables and chairs, and the signature handblown glass blue light fixtures designed by Sarber grace the new restaurant. Diners will also recognize many items like the two mirrors on the walls, the fountain and same photos as a reminder of the previous Costa. Sarber has also rehired many of his former employees.
When Sarber closed Costa Azul on Orange Avenue it was not by choice but due to a new landlord. Sarber had in mind to reopen Costa Azul and had been looking for a space. At first he was considering a smaller location than his previous restaurant but after receiving many offers for the former El Roy’s spot he decided to go for it. “This [location] had come up quite some time ago. It’s close in size [to the other restaurant] and the kitchen is bigger. I was thinking of a smaller place and passed the first few times…we finally came to an agreement and signed the lease,” he explained.
This past fall he started moving the furniture he had stored from the former Costa Azul to the new spot and was waiting to transfer his liquor license. It all finally came together opening last week.
The very large bar, comfy orange couch for waiting, the open bright and airy dining room is an inviting setting for diners to spend time with friends and family.
Sarber continues to believe in offering good food at affordable prices. “We are the ‘Cheers’ of Coronado, we’re community oriented and wanted to have a place that is affordable for a family or for someone to sit at the bar and order tacos and margaritas,” he said.
The restaurant is currently offering a soft opening menu. Sarber has kept some of the favorite dishes on the menu like Carnitas, Shrimp Burrito, Baja Shrimp Cocktail and Carne Asada made with tri tip. Of course the famous margaritas are still the hot item and the restaurant makes its own mix of sweet and sour. The new Costa Azul has an extensive wine list and six beers on tap that rotate.
The day after the opening, the local band In Midlife Crisis played at Costa. Although Sarber plans on having live music a few times a week, it will be a more soft style so that diners can still have a conversation.
Just like at the previous restaurant Sarber works as the manager while his wife Carol does the bookkeeping. “I like to be around say hi. It’s part of the small business [style],” he said. “I have received great feedback, I’ve seen a lot of locals.”
Sarber has worked in the restaurant business since he was 14 years old starting at the old Chart House, now Bluewater Boathouse. He was a dishwasher at first, eventually rising to a manager position. Sarber opened Island Pasta in 1994 and in 2000 he opened Costa Azul, a modern Mexican style eatery. Sarber grew up eating Mexican fare. His mom Phyl Sarber was a teacher who worked with Project Concern and the family often travelled to Mexico and made sure they always brought fresh tortillas back home.
“People appreciate somewhere where you can go [eat] that is less expensive. We still pour twice as much wine and charge less [than other restaurants,]” he said.
The restaurant has two outdoor patios that are perfect for small parties. Sarber said many military parties were held at the former Costa Azul and he hopes to continue that tradition.
Costa Azul 1201 First Street. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Bar closing time is open ended. Happy Hour: Monday through Friday 3 to 6 p.m. and all day Sunday. Taco Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. Lots of free parking.