Chapter One: The Modern Local Owner Rails Against Downtown Santa Ana's Quinceañera Shops

Categories: Indigestion
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We don't really talk about it much here on this infernal blog, but there's a huge debate raging in downtown SanTana about the continued gentrification of the area. I definitely have my issues with this from the news perspective, but for food purposes, I only care about, well, the food: what's opening, and whether what's opening is any good. That said, we call out pendejos here when they're, well, pendejos, whether in the realm of food or not.

One of those newbies is Chapter One: the modern local, which we've reviewed positively in these pages. Their food is fine, but it turns out one of the owners, Tim O'Conner, is a full-fledged pendejo who, despite being in the area for less than a year, thinks he can give business advice to the Latino entrepreneurs getting driven out of Fourth Street.

The occasion for O'Conner's stupidity was the public comments section of the August 24 SanTana City Council meeting, and the issue at hand was whether Downtown Inc., the group of some landlords that has levied a tax on most of the landlords in downtown SanTana, could continue to do so. It seems most of the landlords don't want it, but many of the non-Mexican restaurants in the area, like Weekly faves Memphis and the Crosby, are for it, arguing that tax allows Downtown, Inc. to better promote the area and have security.

Intelligent minds can disagree on this issue, of course. All of Chapter One's three owners spoke in favor of the tax, claiming it has done wonders for the restaurant. But it was only O'Conner who made it a point to needle the area's many quinceañera shops, which has annoyed the area's Brave New Urbanists for years, acting as a sort of ruffled, bejeweled broken window to the hipster enclave they so desire.

"This is specifically for most of the stuff on Fourth Street," O'Conner remarked, even though he was addressing the City Council and not a Chamber of Commerce meeting. "You can't have the same shop, the same stores, the same exact same quinceanera shop across from the exact same quinceañera shop...exact same thing over and over again and expect to be successful. Times have changed. Fourth Street should change with those times."

Why gracias, Great White Father, for that sage advice. Last I heard, Mexican birthrates in Orange County remain pretty high, and the quinceañera industry is actually booming--not that you care about anyone else in SanTana except your patrons, which probably ain't going to include wabs because why should they buy high-priced meals when they can chow down cheaper and better at Tacos y Mulitas Ruben nearby?

More importantly, why do those quinceañera shops bother you so, Tim? They serve a different clientele than Chapter One does, and frankly, there are many more people interested in quinceañeras and baptisms than Chapter One's concept. Taking your train of thought, what you criticize as bad is exactly what's happening in the downtown area. For all the supposed claims that the area is changing, the only businesses opening are restaurants that are eating into each others' business. You can't have the exact same thing over and over again and expect to be successful, Tim--only consumers can decide that, and consumers have decided they want many quinceañera shops on la Cuatro.

But hey: if there's one good thing to come out from this, it's that I have a further excuse to direct people to Memphis and the Crosby.

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Location Info

Chapter One: the modern local

227 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA

Category: Restaurant

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68 comments
martin le
martin le

hey, it's like vietnamese stores down little saigon with all their music shops...  they can't survive with one down each and every corner...

Puto Power
Puto Power

Cant wait until they go Chapter 11

whinerdiner
whinerdiner

This restaurant is doomed.  I paid $15 for weak pulled pork on 2 puny rolls and cold fries with a diet coke. Oh yeah, service sucked too. Not going back. Not going to recommend.  I'll drive 10 minutes up Main Street to The Habit.

Adjective
Adjective

Readers, you can agree with Gustavo that the comment made by one of the owners of Chapter One was racist (it's not difficult to read that kind of sordid intent into it) and jump on the bandwagon to race war, or you can agree with me that it was an inelegant way of asserting a bad business model; it could have been worded better but nothing hateful was meant. Or you can make your own assessment.

There are those who think that the 30+ years of Mexican owned shops on 4th street is a cultural treasure trove that can connect youngsters of Mexican descent to the traditions of their ancestors and that this alone is enough to justify supporting those businesses whether they are able to sustain themselves or not. I believe this is the position where Gustavo has pitched his tent.

There are others that believe that change is imminent, that as these failing businesses begin to disappear it's because they've lost their relevance and customers. Consumers can find items available here in cleaner shops at better prices in more upscale cities, at malls, Target, Walmart and online. This second group maintains that new businesses displacing the old ones is not an ethnic cleansing, rather it is a movement toward bigger and better. I'm in this camp; The many señoritas I know did not buy their quinceañera dresses on 4th street. "It's too dirty there, I got mine online" they tell me or "My tia made mine"

The main point I want to drive home here is that it is a bad idea to base your assessment solely on what Gustavo writes. He has proven that he is incapable of being fair about the issue.

Adjective
Adjective

The biggest pendejo of all? Gustavo Arellano; a sensationalist clown cloying to a single issue. Gussie, you have no credibility. You're only concerned about how many hits your blog gets so you don't care even slightly about the facts. You are the epitome of yellow journalism and I foresee you eventually having your own show on FOX News where you bash people you with whom you disagree with falsehoods and hyperbole and trash dissenting voices.

I disagree with your premise; you are purposefully twisting J.J.'s comments to bolster your whiny 'gentrification' complaint. Look, I love tacos as much as any native Californian but we don't need a taco stand on every corner. I surely wouldn't want a Chapter One on every corner either.

And if the quinceañeras are doing so well, then why can't they pay their rent?

CDP
CDP

Yet another example of the media fueling the fires of racism and bigotry. You are a sad, sad man. And your punctuation sucks.

Jay Z
Jay Z

White kids with money...

Jeff Hall
Jeff Hall

That was not from my business partner JJ.  I think we have taken enough beating on this.  

mitch young
mitch young

Actually, all businesses tend to locate by their competitors -- look at how Starbucks will open as close as possible to a Peet's. So Klavito is, like the proverbial broken clock, correct here.

The funny thing is his outrage and 'displacement of Latinos'. First, 'Latinos?' -- how many Cubans or Borriques or Argies live in Santa Ana. We are talking Mexicans. Second, it's not like these are centuries-old establishements. Mexicans didn't really start displacing Anglos in Santa Ana until the 1970s.

Well, what goes around comes around. Whites are continually told we much 'change with the times', go with the flow, etc when it comes to the massive demographic changes we are being subject to. Mexicans will have to put up with a few minor backwaters of swpl-hipsterdom.

Finally, the whole quinceanera thing is horrible -- and probably one of the reasons that 'Latinas' have four times the teen birth rate that Anglos do in California -- higher than that of Anglos even in 'white trash' states like Tennessee. Not a recipe for success either for the individual or the state. 

JC
JC

Gentrification rules!

Bsquared2
Bsquared2

Hmmm....I grew up in Santa Ana.  But when I was 17 I moved to LA.  Maybe I could forsee the influx of Hipsters and Fauxhemians.  The last thing Santa Ana needs is to be the next Silverlake.  At least the people with their Quinceanera shops will be there long after the hipsters have moved on.  

Remember, Santa Ana is the "All American City".  In this Melting Pot, Quinceaneras and Hipsters should be able to coexist.  Don't diss the Mexicans.  A few years after those Quineaneras, they will be your potential customers.  

JC
JC

Chapter One's food sucks. Their bartenders are A holes. The owners, specifically JJ are coke heads who drink in their own establishment and attempt to date rape the young women they continue to forcefully feed alcohol. Don't take my word for it. Go in there and witness it for yourself.

jm
jm

‎.....this guy is an idiot, not because of his opinion, but because he decides to preach it and have a condescending tone about it. A good businessman never tries to burn bridges and this fool is pouring napalm on his. Lola Gaspar FTW... although I don't know where they stand lol.

m.e.
m.e.

hmm. Downtown santa ana is now getting a hipster kind of vibe with the all the restaurants and the new barber shop down there.. While I really dont want 4th street to change because i love all the mex shops, shoot- my parents took us everyweekend growing up- i also can see why it's good for their business it to be 'trendier' ..  i dont see it as racist at all. just them wanting more of the copper door/crosby type of stuff so that they get more business.. who doesnt want sucess for their business?

JB
JB

Can't wait for when Tim O'Conner is interviewed for "On the Line"........

dubyadawg
dubyadawg topcommenter

Another loser! You are so stupid!

Sanchezej
Sanchezej

I agree with you and I actually agree with Tim.  Even though his wording really sucked.  For downtown Santa Ana, are we recommending those "small business owners" productive for the city or be productive for a nationality?  Im not so sure but Santa Ana needs a change for the better!  Why deal with these "small business owners" that wont pay rent and does this really reflect what we want downtown Santa Ana to be... just another local TJ?

I support Chapter One and the Yost for bringing in a business that isnt pure "chicano" based and it is for the downtown Santa Ana'ers who would like to have a good time without having to speak spanish to get food from some damn taco vendor.

Brooke
Brooke

yeah thats exactly what we need, mor chain stores like Walmart lmfao... Break the Chain brother... Supporting independent local business owner's like the owners of these shops you are rooting to shut down is good for local economy... Supporting Walmart &Target does nto support the community.

JB
JB

I kind of see it as the media pointing out the scumbag who is *setting* the fires of racism and bigotry, something I personally find very useful when deciding where me and my friends should spend our money when we find ourselves in downtown Santa Ana. 

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Um, I didn't rail against quinceañera shops—so what's your point?

Adjective
Adjective

Jeff, Gustavo has been single minded about this issue. He's defecated all over the Yost, the Artist's Village and now the gastro-pubs on Broadway. He'll say anything to prop up his faux-Olivera Street on 4th. This particular columnist is not to be trusted in anything he says as it's all hyperbolic and sensational, misusing the word 'gentrification' like he wants to start a race war.

Run down 99 cent shops that can't pay rent? Don't close those! You're disrespecting every Mexican who ever lived. Open a theater that doesn't cater specifically to Mexicans? The owners must be Nazis. An over saturation of dress shops that cater only to 15 year old Latinas (and are always empty when I walk by)? These represent the Mexican ethos and saying anything bad about them is like attacking everyone who has relatives south of the border.

I happen to agree with JJ. I think there are way too many dress shops in the area (and I wouldn't care if they were Swedish or Australian, there are TOO many dress shops).

But Gustavo has chosen the dark side. The good news is that he's promised not to set foot in Chapter One again.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Wisdom from a Spanish-loving, Mexi-hating, fag-bashing moron...

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

JC: Sorry for the asterisks, but can't make allegations unless you can prove them, son!

Adjective
Adjective

idiot...preaching...condescending...

You're talking about Gustavo, right?

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

...except quinceañera shops ARE trendy, and a booming business.

JB
JB

"What would you like to see less of in Orange County?"

"Western Union centers, shaved ice pushcarts, pop-up yard sales....."

Adjective
Adjective

Nothing JJ actually said is racist (though he can be kind of a doofus at times), but Gustavo misled you into the perception that what he said is racist. If Senor Arellano had been a little less disingenuous then you'd still be able to try Chapter One and judge it on it 'Yelp' type merits (i.e. food, drinks, atmosphere, service) and dismiss the public comments, made offhand and spontaneously, about what one of the owners thought of a particular business models, at a city council meeting.

Adjective
Adjective

I think you know what JJ meant and that it wasn't anti-Mexican or even anti-quinceañera, yet you felt you could mount your pathetic and un-true 'gentrication' argument using this as a launch pad. Sure,O'Conner could have phrased his comment more prudently, but that doesn't excuse you, Gustavo, for ramping up the vitriol and mongering hate. I like you less with every word of yours I read. It's funny, because I used to enjoy your 'Hole In The Wall' column and chuckle at 'Ask a Mexican', now I just see you as a guy whose key issue is to preserve only the Mexican aspects of Santa Ana to the exclusion of all other aspects & ethnicities. Until I see you rallying for more Chinese food, or a good Italian restaurant or for ANYTHING that isn't Mexican in origin, I will perceive you as a reverse racist.

Adjective
Adjective

I call you out for name calling and suddenly I'm supporting a skinhead? That's what I'm talking about, Arellano, my motive is to point out your ad hominem attacks and poor journalism.

That's like me saying that Gustavo thinks that if you're not a pure-blood Mexican than you don't belong in SanTana. It may not be true, but if I wanted to ramp up the hate, it'd work pretty well. To underscore my point, this is exactly the kind of reporting YOU write. Hyperbole, misinformation and word usage meant to monger sensationalism against those with whom you disagree.

Adjective
Adjective

Gustavo, as usual, resorting to name calling.

mitch young
mitch young

I don't hate Mexicans...I pray for them.

JJ (Chapter One) BIATCH!
JJ (Chapter One) BIATCH!

Gustavo is just a hater, period. You sense it in all of his posts about downtown Santa Ana and the non-mexican/latinos. He's a beaner without a weiner.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Turning around all comments to direct something at me—don't you have CDs to spin haha?

Adjective
Adjective

I'm not a troll; I just happen to be completely at odds with you about the direction of DTSA and I'm willing to fight you word for word. I'd prefer more art oriented shops and restaurants, book stores, record stores and less shops targeted toward one specific ethnicity. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be some dress shops, some travel agencies, some jewelers, some check cashing.places but not a whole city full of it. I love Mexican food, but I also love Thai, Greek, Italian, Persian, Chinese and Indian food. Why not have some of those as well?

So go ahead and call me a babbler simply because I vehemently disagree with you, your faux journalism and the fact that you don't mind misleading folks if it helps you achieve your agenda, which seems to be a Santa Ana completely controlled by Mexicans. There are a lot of people who live here who have ancestral roots south of the border, but there are many who don't and for whom these empty shops offer nothing but hawkers screaming at you and trying to press fliers on to you as you walk by..

My understanding is that the owners of these properties have tried to work with the tenants regarding rent, which they've lowered and deferred, but if these businesses can't eventually make the rent then they should be prepared to move out. If these shops are booming, as you insist, they should be able to pay the rent AND help support paying for extra security in the area and promoting events that will bring consumers to the neighborhood.

Adjective
Adjective

"Go find your own stats, son!" Really? You can make any old assertion without providing back up to support it? That's like me saying, "94% of all DTSA residents think Gustavo Arellano is a narrow minded jerk"...and just leave it at that. Swell journalistic ethics, G.

Adjective
Adjective

Let's see some stats proving they're a booming business. Trendy? Good luck selling that lie.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Of course what was said was racist—everyone seems to believe it except Chapter One and its apologists. More babble...

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

HILARIOUS! Yeah, I'm so racist that I keep promoting those non-Mexicans over at the Crosby at the expense of other Mexican restaurants in the downtown—you can look it up!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Cool—now you're supporting a skinhead! Yeah, we really want your ilk in SanTana!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yeah, that's why I'm at the Crosby with all those damn non-Mexicans...stay classy, guys!

Adjective
Adjective

I'm not very happy with you, Gustavo, and the way you write about DTSA, thus I am slamming back as many of the hate-balls you lob as I can.

(p.s. I spin vinyl only, mijo)..

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

BLAH BLAH BLAH. You Brave New Urbanists always love to spin those of us who know your agenda in Manichean terms. See you at the Crosby!

Adjective
Adjective

Me spin YOUR agenda in Manichean terms? I'd say it's just the opposite.

I will say this: The 'Gentrification' is the best thing that's happened to this neighborhood in 30+ years. Thank god for Memphis, Gypsy Den, Crosby, Chapter One and especially the Yost. And I truly hope to see more 'gentrifying'.

We will continue to argue about this, Gustavo, so long as you keep trying to shove DTSA into a backward. gang infested barrio (I lived in SA in the 80's & 90's so I remember) when it's trying to grow into something more.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

See, if you were someone who adds legitimate thought to a conversation, I'd play with you. But you're little more than a troll—what is this, your seventh babble today? Good luck finding what every Mexican knows!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Go find your own stats, son! If quinceañera shops clustered together are such a bad business model, then pray tell why it's been successful for over a decade on Fourth Street, and why conventions and extravagances are rising in the genre. Anyone remotely associated with Mexicans know this, which only shows you need more Mexi friends haha

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