What motivates someone who has the good fortune of being financially independent to buy a distressed restaurant property (with clear potential) with the goal of (hopefully) turning the dry weed into a beautiful rose? It takes significant money, too, with an unpredictable outcome. By the way the new proprietress here had absolutely no previous restaurant experience.
The restaurant is located in a building built in 1947. Originally the Bel Air Farmhouse, it was also known as A Fine Affair for many years. In 1997 new owners renovated the building yet again and opened the Bel Air Bar & Grill. They smartly added the Express Coffee take-out in the back, and created a new, convenient neighborhood favorite.
By the time Susan Lord bought the existing restaurant in 2007 the building was in pretty bad shape. She ran the restaurant while she created the plans and obtained the needed permits to extensively remodel the building. The Bel Air Bar + Grill temporarily closed its doors in 2011 and reopened 18 months later in November 2012. Now there is a new, state-of-the-art kitchen, updated interior design, 35 new parking spaces, and the elegant and beautiful Sunset Room for private events.
The Express was rebranded as The Shack in the Back. It’s a convenient quick stop in the morning or afternoon for a cup of coffee, burritos with flair, salads and sandwiches. At night it’s the spot for a satisfying take-out dinner.
The design for the striking art glass entry was Susan’s concept, artfully executed by artist Amanda Weil. The images are photographs of bougainvillea blossoms picked just up nearby Bellagio Road.