Invasion of the Phillies?

It’s a bit depressing driving around Santa Rosa these days, with every other storefront seemingly FOR LEASE. I hear endless frustration from folks in the food biz about ridiculous rents and increasing food costs. I’m get bummed seeing folks like Mark Malicki move out of town while yet another Panda Express or Taco Bell open for business. I see hopeful local restaurateurs decide to wait it out rather than dive in. And, worst of all, I’m finding myself cautiously pessimistic when eager folks do decide to take the plunge.

Sadly, we’re all the hungrier for it.

It is, I suppose a sign of the times. The cost of living is just too high for many young chefs to take a chance in Wine Country. It’s too high for most of us, really. Even as a devout foodie, a casual $40 dinner gives me a much more serious pause than it used to. And a $150 dinner gives me serious hives. I’m even reconsidering my morning bagel. Are we in for worse? Let’s hope not.

But, okay, enough with the glass-is-half-empty laments.

Despite my kvetching, there are a few glimmers of hope on the horizon. Philadephia-chefs Matt and Sonjia Spector are busy remodeling the former Stomp spot (1457 Lincoln Ave.), with an expected opening date in June for their small-plates spot, named JoLe. The couple are the former owners of Matyson, a popular American bistro in the City of Brotherly Love. Though the spot has struggled, despite a string of solid chefs throughout the last few years as Mount View Restaurant, Catahoula and Stomp.

Another Philly addition is also in the works in Santa Rosa. On the value side of the coin, The Cheesesteak Shop is setting up camp in the Stony Point Plaza at 740 Stony Point Road near Taco Del Mar. Hold on to your grilled onions! More details to come.