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Cornerstone closes – for now

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A popular Midtown breakfast spot, Cornerstone Restaurant, closed Tuesday.

Cornerstone’s owners Kwang "Joe" Jang and his brother-in-law, Danny Leung, along with family and employees, turned off the stoves and said goodbye to customers before shutting the doors at 1 p.m.

They were unable to extend their lease for the corner spot at 2330 J St., where they’ve operated the restaurant for 16 years. They hope to open a new restaurant location nearby within six months.

"We served our last meal," Leung said. "Our customers are sad. Our employees are out of jobs."

Four months ago, the property owners agreed in court to give them until Sept. 1 to move out. Jang and Leung recently offered to pay higher rent if the landlords would allow them to stay a few more months — long enough to renovate an old, Spanish-style church at 23rd and K streets. The property owners rejected the offer, Leung said.

Leung’s sister and a family friend bought the vacant church for $450,000. They will finance the building’s renovation and lease the space to Jang and Leung

But the remodel has stalled. Changing the building’s use from a church to a restaurant and a parking waiver request are partly what’s complicating the permit process, Leung said.

A hearing before the city zoning administrator originally set for Thursday may be postponed following confusion over the parking waiver request.

The church building has no parking lot, which was also the case at the original Cornerstone. A new restaurant would be required to have 20 or 21 spaces on-site. Because the church is an old building, the city requires only seven on-site parking spaces. Cornerstone’s owners are requesting the seven-space requirement be waived, according to the city.

They plan to use a commercial valet parking service for customers and rent parking space for employees. They are not asking the city to allow the restaurant to reserve 20 on-street parking spaces for their use, Leung said.

The remodel can start as soon as permits are approved by the city. Cornerstone’s owners will use Facebook posts and e-mail to let customers know when the new restaurant is ready for business, Leung said.

Rachel and Richard Hansen, owners of The Book Collector at 1008 24th St., are sad to lose neighbors they’ve enjoyed for the last 15 years. The restaurant’s closure will be especially hard on the used bookstore because there’s no retail on the other side of the store, Rachel Hansen said.

“We’ll miss Cornerstone, but it’s also a tragedy to have a vacant business there,” she said. “Midtown is always changing (yet) people seem to land on their feet.”

Leung, Jang and others spent Tuesday afternoon moving stoves, refrigerators, furniture and other items out of the restaurant and into temporary storage. They’ll use as much as possible in the new location.

"Everything is gone by tomorrow," he said. "I think it will be better once we open in the new place."

Photos by Suzanne Hurt, a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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