Luca Italian Kitchen closes; YO-B to open

UPDATED — Melad Stephan has sold his Luca Italian Kitchen.

Another downtown restaurateur, Nabil Bacha, took possession of it this afternoon.

“We wanted to bring something a bit different,” says Bacha, who owns Cafe Bel Ami at 229 E. William.

He considered doing something possibly called Bel Ami Bistro, which would have been similar to Stephan’s popular Uptown Bistro that was at the entrance to Old Town Square before Luca.

Bacha decided that’s too much like what is already in Old Town, though.

“They’re all competing against each other,” he says of sit-down restaurants there. “There’s just too many.”

Bacha decided to go another route with yogurt, custard and one really, really tasty burger, which he says will be similar to the popular In-N-Out Burger on the West Coast.

The name is tentatively YO-B, for yogurt and burgers.

“We can probably get everyone from around the downtown area,” Bacha says of offering something different.

He says the idea is “something trendy” and reasonably priced. The restaurant will have seating and to-go orders.

Bacha says he’ll share more information in the months to come. He figures it will take at least two months to open, if not three or four.

Stephan has been looking to sell Luca for a while.

“Things were getting better, but it still was just kind of a roller coaster,” says Jason Smith, director of operations for Stephan’s Empire Restaurant Management.

Smith says Stephan’s other restaurants, such as Sabor Latin Bar & Grille and Oeno Wine Bar, are doing better than Luca has done. He says catering is going especially well.

“The catering business is … getting wild,” he says.

“We just were kind of ready to move on.”