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The Enos Ranch development’s newest eatery officially opens Monday, but first Urbane Café will host a series of preopening events aimed at introducing itself to Santa Maria and raising money for good causes.

“We are truly excited to be here," said Christi Christian, Urban Café spokeswoman. "We are looking forward to getting to know the town. All the people and organizations we have met are wonderful and we are looking forward to becoming part of the community."

Urbane Café, which started in 2003 in Ventura reportedly because founder Tom Holt couldn’t find a place to get a good sandwich or salad, will host three preopening parties.

“All the guests will eat for free -- sandwich, salad, cookies and drinks," Christian said. "All we ask is that they donate to our partner charity. Everything that is donated, the owner will match it and write them a check."

The first celebration will be 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday and benefit Delta High School; the second from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday for the Boys and Girls Club; and the third from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday for Special Olympics.

Urbane Café has a real culture of giving, Christian added.

During the Thomas fire, local Urbane Café locations made trays of sandwiches delivered them to firefighters, first responders and other crews.

The spirit of giving will continue Monday and the rest of the week.

“The first 50 through the door are going to get a treat,” Christian said.

The restaurant plans to extend its grand opening celebrations all next week. Each day will feature a special event designed to show appreciation for many different groups. On Tuesday, police and firefighters eat free; on Wednesday, teachers can get a free meal and a special gift; and Friday, students can get a free sandwich or salad.

Each Urbane Café location is designed around a hearth oven, which is used to make its signature focaccia bread.

“We only have one kind of bread. Every sandwich we make is made on bread less than an hour old,” Christian said. “Bread older than an hour old is used as croutons for our salads.”

The California-grown restaurant chain’s menu offers a host of fresh sandwiches and salads.

Among its sandwich choices is the Rustic Rosemary sandwich that features roasted rosemary chicken, julienned mix of heirloom carrots, apples and beets, arugula, mozzarella cheese and chutney aioli.

There's also a sandwich that features a local favorite -- Santa Maria-style barbecue.

The Santa Maria BBQ sandwich features roasted barbecue chicken, cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, apple wood-smoked bacon and house-made apple coleslaw. The tri-tip sandwich includes steak, pepper jack cheese, house-made apple coleslaw and chipotle aioli.

Salad choices include a fall harvest Caesar salad, a Mediterranean five-grain bowl and a seasonal quinoa and corn.

Other businesses coming soon

Work on Enos Ranch began last year when crews started to transform a former family ranch to a large mixed use commercial development.

Called a gateway project by city leaders, it will stretch from the Highway 101 and Betteravia Road to the intersection of College Drive and Battles Road.

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When complete, it will include new eateries, large retailers, car dealerships and an apartment complex.

Costco Wholesale was the first business to open, followed by Buffalo Wild Wings and Lowe’s Home Improvement.

“The developer is working with the city to stay on schedule,” said Chuen Ng, Santa Maria Community Development Department director.

Crews are working in the area around Urbane Café to open retailers in the next few weeks, including Old Navy and Dick's Sporting Goods, officials said.

“There is a lot of activity at the Bradley West area of Enos Ranch,” Ng said.

The northern side of the project that will eventually be home to car dealerships and an apartment complex has been dormant, but ground could be broken later this year.

Though all of the plans have yet to be submitted, Honda and Toyota will be a part of the development.

“Two other planning permits have been submitted for two other future dealerships. No names were provided for those dealerships,” said Neda Zayer, Santa Maria Planning Division’s principal planner.

The Towbes Group is set to build the planned apartment complex, which will be called the Easton Plaza Apartments. When complete, it will consist of more than 300 rental units. The complex has already received city Planning Commission approval, and construction is expected to get underway later this year.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.


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