New Owners of Celia’s Getting to Know Los Osos

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

September 7, 2023

The new owners of Celia’s Garden Café, Todd Newman and business partner Mathew “Matty” Laurino. Photo by Theresa-Marie Wilson

On August 31, amid serving plates of comfort food, delectable desserts and a side of warm, welcoming service, a local restaurant changed hands.

Todd Newman, his wife Korie, and business partner Mathew “Matty” Laurino opened Celia’s Garden Café as the new owners of the popular eatery and surrounding property. It has been business as usual with the same employees, menu, and atmosphere, and will stay that way for the immediate future.

“We’re definitely looking to educate ourselves on the heritage of Celia’s and what it means to the community,” Todd told Estero Bay News. “We thought the best way to do that was to not fix something that’s not broken. We just wanted to continue on the Celia’s path, where we feel like we can get more creative and expand our ideas. We don’t feel a lot of pressure, we feel like there’s an opportunity to kind of learn and understand.”

Todd and Matty have been friends for years, but this is the first business adventure the partners have embarked on under the LLC Estero Gardens. Todd brings years of experience to the table as a former owner of SLO Brew and Downtown Brew as well as a couple of restaurants in Paso Robles and Santa Barbara. He is also known as a music promoter with shows at various county venues under the name Good Medicine Presents. Todd and Korie live in Cayucos and their kids attend the Wishing Well School in Los Osos. Matty is a SLO resident who transplanted from New Jersey to attend Cal Poly years ago.

“Having been in San Luis County since 1995,” Todd said, “my wife and I have witnessed a lot of evolution, a lot of growth within the entire county. Los Osos has a genuine, authentic feel to it. We’ve definitely been drawn to this area. While it’s been very interesting having time with our kids in the community, we also kind of dreamed about having a business that we could explore within Los Osos. It was out in the ethos for us.”

Although the 1.5-acre property, the sale of which also included a beer and wine liquor license and an established restaurant, seems like an ideal place to unite years of experience and interests, but, for now, the vision for the space is flexible.

“It’s uncertain, we don’t know,” Todd said. “There are certain things in logistics that we have to work out. Out of the gates, our primary goal is to make sure that we’re competent in the thing that we have in front of us, which is the restaurant,” Todd said. “We would also like to explore some new food programming into lunch and dinner, and then tackle the mid property so that it can kind of integrate and flow together. Celia had a nice music program back a couple of years ago where she had singer-songwriters out on her patio. I feel confident that we’ll explore those types of things.”

Right now, plans are at an enviable stage for any business owner, an open space to build community with or into. Another idea on the table is to keep the outdoor area somewhat of a kid friendly picnic spot. 

“You can have a drink, you can have your coffee, you can have food, but then you can also bring your kids in after the soccer game or after the baseball game,” Todd said. “We’re going to re-vegetate with plants and, to a certain degree, have a picnic atmosphere, something where the community knows that there’s space for the kids to move in, for everybody to stretch out. 

“We will certainly bring along new ideas down the road and try new things. We just don’t have anything set in stone at this stage. It’s a large location we intend to take advantage of the beautiful outdoor setting. We would love it to be a community resource for maybe wedding receptions, birthday parties and things of that niche.”

Many readers will remember the side property as the former Sage Ecological Nursery and that it is home to a very large, old oak tree right in middle of ideal seating or parking spaces. Have no fear dendrophiles, the beautiful tree will remain a stalwart standout.  

“It’s fairly pivotal,” Todd said. “It’s interesting because it’s certainly not ideal in its location in the middle of the parking lot, but it’s beautiful. We wouldn’t replace it in our lifetime; we will definitely orchestrate our plans around the big oak tree.”

Former restaurant owner, Celia Alfirevic, operated the popular eatery for the past 18 years after purchasing what was then the Garden Café in 2005. She sold the restaurant and plans to remain in the food industry making and selling her popular apricot jam at area farmers markets and enjoying her retirement years with extended family.

“I want to thank the community for their support,” Celia said in a previous interview with Estero Bay News. “I want to thank them for constantly allowing us in their lives and letting us try to be a part of their day. I want to say thank you for that, and for allowing me to have a job for 18 years, right down the street from my house.”

Celia’s is located at 1188 Los Osos Valley Road. They are open seven days a week Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 5 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. They can be reached at 805-528-5711

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