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The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Fullerton Planning Commission meeting could decide the fate of two downtown retailers

When the Fullerton Planning Commission meets on Nov 17 one of the items on the agenda is a request for a conditional use permit Type 47 ABC license for the building at 109 S. Harbor Blvd in downtown Fullerton.

If the application is granted it would pave the way for a new restaurant named World of Beer to eventually occupy the building and leave the current retail businesses at that location, Blanquel Popular Art and Semilla with uncertain futures.

The request to the planning commission for the permit was made by Bijalkumar Patel & Dhaval Panchal as well as property owner Carlo Terranova. The original hearing was back in September but was rescheduled to a special planning committee meeting on Nov 17 by the requesters of the permit.

Florencio Blanquel greeting customers at his store front on 109 S. Harbor Blvd.
Florencio Blanquel greeting customers at his storefront on 109 S. Harbor Blvd. Photo credit: Dustin Malek

Blanquel Popular Art is an art and custom furniture store where Florencio Blanquel has been crafting custom furniture for 22 years. The furniture is handmade in Mexican colonial and rustic style. The art comes from both Mexico as well as local artists. The store is a popular stop for tourists and locals and is part of the Downtown Fullerton Art Walk.

The possibility of replacing a popular Mexican art store with a World of Beer chain restaurant has caused some concern among Fullerton residents many of whom attended the September planning commission meeting to show their support for Blanquel Popular Art.

Custom art on display at Blanquel Popular Art
Custom art on display at Blanquel Popular Art Photo credit: Dustin Malek

Florencio Blanquel’s son Rodrigo Blanquel said, “We thank God for the community and the advocates of the area, they had over 50 people who came out in support of us in September.”

Carlo Terranova the owner of the building does not believe this means the end of Blanquel Popular Art though.

“I think some folks in the community feel that this will force the current business to close but I don’t think that’s the case, it’s common for businesses to move and continue,” Terranova said.

World of Beer is a bar & kitchen chain that boasts 100’s of beers at each of their 48 locations. They’re predominately located on the east coast and if a Fullerton location comes to fruition, it would be the second World of Beer in California, the first in the southland.

Concern among local residents goes beyond just losing the longstanding art and furniture store. Given the alcohol-related incidents that have become common in the downtown area many simply don’t think more alcohol licenses should be approved by the Fullerton Planning Committee.

Florencio Blanquel building a chair in Blanquel Popular Art
Florencio Blanquel building a chair in Blanquel Popular Art Photo credit: Dustin Malek

“I feel that Fullerton has too many bars already. Enough is enough. I’ve opposed licenses before, I’ve opposed expansions before, I’d do it for anyone in the downtown area. Now it happens to be on our business.” Blanquel said.

The lease for Blanquel Popular Art is month to month, and there is no telling if or when Blanquel could be forced to leave the downtown location if the alcohol license is approved. Although the timeline remains unclear, Carlo Terranova says he is committed to a smooth transition.

“We are committed to working together to make sure that they can find a new and even better location for their business for many years to come,” Terranova said.

Land of Kin handmade sign by Florencio Blanquel
Land of Kin handmade sign by Florencio Blanquel Photo credit: Dustin Malek

For now, Florencio is still doing what he loves, making furniture and art for the community of Fullerton. Florencio Blanquel’s work can be seen in his store on 109 S. Harbor Blvd and at the Land of Kin exhibit at the Fullerton Museum, where he custom-made a sign for the event.

EDIT: This article was edited for accuracy.

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