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Lexus Escondido expands into shopping destination

Avant-garde concept includes new on-site restaurant

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As if buying a new Lexus isn't luxurious enough, one dealership takes the concept to a whole new level. The Centre at Lexus Escondido is morphing into a one-stop shop for everything luxury.

The three-story, 300,000-square-foot complex is equipped with a gourmet cafe, childcare center, a golf simulator, a business center with complementary WiFi, a home accessory boutique and 8,500 square-feet of meeting space. To top things off, a 10,000-square-foot restaurant is being added set to open February 2012.

Judy Jones-Cone, owner of The Centre at Lexus Escondido, has teamed up with Cohn Restaurant Group to open Vintana. The $2.5 million combined investment brings another of the Cohn's highly popular restaurants to North County.

"The restaurant business is very competitive and we are looking for something that stands out in the industry," said David Cohn, founder of the Cohn Restaurant Group. "We want people to say 'how crazy are those guys, they have a restaurant in a [car] dealership.'"

Crazy or not, Cohn's restaurants have been successful throughout San Diego County and Hawaii.

"Our focus is on food, service and ambience. Each of our restaurants has a distinct personality," Cohn said. "Vintana will have a clean, crisp modern design to accompany the menu."

The Centre at Lexus Escondido is transforming into a luxury retail and dining destination. The top floor of the main building will soon feature a new restaurant by the Cohn Group, Vintana. Photo by Ryan Patruno

Award-winning executive chef and partner Deborah Scott will bring her unique style of innovative cuisine to the restaurant. She will be working with local purveyors to provide the freshest produce and select items for Vintana's, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch menu.

"Deborah is taking some of our favorite foods from C Level, Kimosabe, Indigo Grill and Island Prime along with creating new signature dishes that fits the customer," Cohn said.

The name Vintana is a hybrid of the French word for wine "vin" and the Spanish word "ventana," which translated appropriately means window. The 17-foot high windows, which encapsulate the name, look over the surrounding northern valley with views of hills and the local mountains.

Vintana will also look down upon a miniature Bellagio-style fountain. The dancing water and light show will be completed to coincide with the restaurant's grand opening. The view can also be seen from the 20,000-square-foot event space that extends to each side of the restaurant. The outdoor event area is fitted with fire tables and fire pits, and has the capacity to service more than 400 guests. It has already been rented out for company events, mixers and wedding receptions.

"Our hope is that visitors will feel welcomed, relaxed and cared for here that's what hospitality means to us," said Drew Davis, general manager for The Centre at Lexus Escondido. "We want to not only meet but exceed people's expectations of our services."

Vintana will provide an extensive wine list and have taps from San Diego's award-winning craft beer scene, including Stone Brewing Co., also located in Escondido. However, what Vintana will be best known for is the vodka lounge, which will offer more than 100 select vodkas from around the world. Prices are said to not exceed $7.50 per mixed beverage.

"This is a unique opportunity to be a part of something special," Davis said. "We are very excited to be partnering with the Cohn Group. We feel very strongly that Vintana will be a great success."

Additional expansion plans for The Centre include adding a nail salon, spa, jewelry store, tailor and a cheese and wine shop. Free tours of the property are available daily.

Patruno is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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