Remodel heats up former San Bruno buffet building

The former Lee’s Buffet is being remodeled into a new Chinese eatery, in one of the largest restaurant revamps the city has seen in several years.

The remodel, located south of the downtown entrance, comes as the city works at updating businesses and storefronts in and around the city’s core.

The roughly 9,560-square-foot building located at 271 El Camino Real, which a planning staff report says is in blighted condition, has been vacant for the year since it was sold to new owner Peter Chan, who also owns South Sea Seafood Village in San Francisco. It sits on a roughly 25,600-square-foot building.

“As far as restaurant remodels go, this is the largest one I can remember,” Community Development Director Aaron Aknin said.

Though the property will remain a Chinese restaurant, the name of which is to be determined, Aknin said the city expects a dramatically updated look to the building, one of the major landmarks on El Camino.

El Camino, up and down the Peninsula, has been criticized for a lack of a uniform storefront appearance, but cities have been attempting to change that by encouraging new, transit-oriented development.

There are other smaller vacancies in the area, Aknin said, but those properties, including the storied El Camino Theater site, are being snapped up.

A tall, remodeled theater located at 447 San Mateo Ave., divided into office space and home to a barbershop, stereo shop and a number of different retail spots over the years, will be redeveloped into housing. Developer Golden Harvest also purchased three now-empty former bar properties nearby, including the Rio Saloon.

Development of these properties is a move forward for San Bruno’s long-term downtown redevelopment plan — which includes securing a tenant for the long-empty Wells Fargo site located at 470 San Mateo Ave.

tramroop@examiner.com

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