Z Villages partnered with the El Camino Homeless Organization for the event


ATASCADERO — On Sept. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m., the City of Atascadero braved the heat to come out and celebrate the official grand opening of La Plaza on El Camino Real. The building has been in the works for five years, with the Zappas family and the city teaming up to bring La Plaza downtown.

“I’m hoping that the people of Atascadero can understand our history and cherish it, and I’m hoping this building will help bring that as well as the City Hall did,” said Mike Zappas, owner of Z Villages, who built the building, in his speech at the grand opening. “It was a real big struggle to build this thing in this spot here. There was a lot of things that popped up and kicked us in the butt, but we just kept going.”

Z Villages acquired all the lots needed to build La Plaza from Feb. 2017 through June 2017. Five years later, the building stands tall, with La Plaza paying homage to the Atascadero of old while pushing the city forward into the future.

“In 1917, there was La Plaza, the original La Plaza, over on Traffic Way, over by Fire Station 1,” Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno said in her speech. “It was a place for outdoor shopping with merchants, and this is sort of meant to mirror that with the architecture, the pillars, and the high ceilings, and of course, it compliments the architecture in our downtown here.”

The grand opening even paid homage to the original La Plaza’s 1917 opening by including the Atascadero Community Band, which started playing as soon as the ribbon cutting and speeches concluded. Music was also provided by DJs from Traffic Records, and there was a live set from local band IMUA on the main stage.

“In the past couple of years, the most common questions that I get from people in town are, when is that building opening, what is going to be in there, what’s the restaurant, when can we make reservations, what’s going in there, when’s it going to be open? On and on and on. That has been what’s so exciting,” added Moreno. “The growth that we’ve seen in our downtown, a lot of that has been because of the commitment and the investment that the Zappas family has made to the downtown. And people have seen that, and they have hopped on board and been a part of it too.”

Moreno went on to say that having La Plaza in Atascadero is going to create economic opportunity for the entirety of the downtown.

The event also included over 20 local vendors set up along El Camino Real, selling food, drinks, and other experiences to everyone in attendance. Vendors included Hungry Mother Truck, Taqueria Don Jose, Mary’s Cuisine, Colony Culture, LIGHTHOUSE Coffee, Paradise Shaved Ice, CIELO, LOL Yogurt Shop, and Lou Lou Chees Girl selling food. Wine from, Carbon 6, La Perdingus, Desparada, Herman Story, Ultima Tulie, and Lone Madrone. Beer from Ancient Owl Bottle Shop, Santa Maria Brew, Wild Fields, and Central Coast Brewery. Cider from, The Poisoned Apple and Bristol’s Cider. SLO Axe Co., LC Clothing, Ametza, Earnest Grace, Peaceful Plants, and Off the Wall Custom Creations also participated.

Z Villages partnered with the El Camino Homeless Organization (ECHO) for the Grand Opening. Proceeds from food and drink sales went directly to ECHO’s efforts to help the local unhoused community and raised approximately $5,000 for the organization.

“I can’t help but smile every time I drive past this building and the finished product and how it just finishes off downtown Atascadero in such a beautiful way. You can tell it’s a labor of love by a family that belongs to this community,” said San Luis Obispo County District 5 Supervisor Debbie Arnold of La Plaza.

Feature Photo by Mark Winkler