Burlingame’s Broadway pulses with new business

Broadway is about to experience a mini-boom of restaurants getting ready to open shop, a move officials and merchants think will be a shot in the arm for the city’s northern shopping district.

A year ago, the city relaxed its moratorium on restaurants in the Broadway shopping district at the request of several merchants and residents near the district. The ordinance, which previously decreed a 23-restaurant limit on Broadway, was amended to allow for five more, city planner Meg Monroe said.

Merchants were looking for a bakery in particular, something comparable with Copenhagen on Burlingame Avenue. They got their wish with Chocolate Mousse Bakery, set to open by summer’s end, which is joining the nearly finished Broadway Grill and Joanie’s Happy Days Diner, Broadway Business Improvement District President Ross Bruce said. Rocca’s Ristorante, an Italian restaurant, opened in June.

An art gallery is set to open on the 1300 block of Broadway and a women and children’s clothing shop, Blue Skies off Broadway, is also set to move soon to the thoroughfare.

Shannon Yaryan, owner of Blue Skies off Broadway, said she is moving from her old location on Capuchino Avenue because she needed a better location and more space.

The coming restaurants, she said, should bring a number of new shoppers and diners to the area.

Dana Kern, who co-owns the bakery with her husband, Joe, also runs branches in San Carlos and Redwood City.

“I’m very excited about going back to Burlingame,” said Kern, who was raised in the city.

The original moratorium on restaurants stemmed from a concern that the city would be overrun with them, Monroe said. In the mid-1980s, the city created a moratorium for Burlingame Avenue and then one for Broadway shortly after.

An economic study released in May found that the restriction actually pushed some restaurant owners to nearby cities like San Mateo. An arbitrary limit on any business prevents natural turnover, according to the findings. But the city still needs to keep the delicate balance between retail and restaurants in order to stay vibrant, Monroe said.

“I think Broadway continues to strengthen, because there are merchants who are genuinely interested in making it work,” Monroe said.

Though the district may be pulsing with new life, City Manager Jim Nantell doesn’t believe it will ever replace Burlingame Avenue, or vice versa. While Burlingame Avenuehas been a regional shopping draw for years with several chain stores, Broadway remains a neighborhood staple.

“They’ll do whatever they can to stay viable, but they don’t want to be Burlingame Avenue,” Nantell said. “They serve very different niches.”

tramroop@examiner.com

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