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Restaurant Chez Shea Gets Makeover from New Owner

Changes implemented both inside and outside for Half Moon Bay restaurant.

Half Moon Bay restaurant has undergone some subtle yet noticeable changes, thanks to new owner Mars Abtin.

"We've changed the ambience in the dining and patio area — it's a must-see," said Abtin, who lives in Half Moon Bay.

In the dining area, the lighting is dimmed and candles are lit at each table. New paintings have been hung on the walls.

Vintage signs have been added to the fence area surrounding the outdoor patios. New tables and awnings are accompanied with a soft light, which gives the place a rustic look. Abtin also renovated the bathrooms.

Abtin purchased the Main Street restaurant from its previous owners Jose Luis Ugalde and Liam Durkee in April. The couple also owns local favorite Café Gibraltar in El Granada.

“Chez Shea was sold so that we could concentrate more on the catering side of our business and on our children,” said Liam Durkee, business partner and wife of Ugalde. Durkee used to manage Chez Shea. She now manages Café Gibraltar.

Abtin, who has been in the food business for the last 30 years, has kept the restaurant's menu the same, which includes unique flavors from all over the world, such as South Africa, India, the Middle East and Mexico — along with American fare as well.

“Chez Shea is serving organic and freshly made food, service is superb and prices are reasonable,” said Abtin, who also owns an Italian ice cream and coffee shop in Palo Alto called Gelateria.

“I was planning to invest in a business that serves fresh and organic food and Chez Shea was the best candidate because of the quality of food and its location,” said Abtin.

The staff has at Chez Shea has also remained the same.

“My brother-in-law Alfredo is still at the helm as chef-manager,” said Durkee.

“There have been a lot of improvements around here,” said Laura Santiago, who has worked at Chez Shea for over three years. “We have a little bit of everything.”

Ugalde and Durkee plan to eventually sell Café Gibraltar.

“Jose Luis wants to spend more time with the babes before they grow up,” said Durkee. “He sees our daughter cruising towards fifteen and he knows it is now or never.”

The process could take many months to complete, in order to find a buyer and transfer the beer and wine license over to the new owner.

“We assume that anyone who would be in interested in purchasing the business would want to keep it as it is, much as was the case for Chez Shea,” said Durkee.

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Cid August 08, 2011 at 05:42 PM
OH no! I will SO MISS Cafe Gilbraltar if a new owner takes over. The Cooking Classes and the food probably won't be the same! So much better than a tourist trap like SPAM"S CHowder house.
Kayla Figard August 08, 2011 at 10:31 PM
If a new owner takes over, the current owners are assuming that they will keep the restaurant largely the same, like what happened with Chez Shea
Brian Ginna August 09, 2011 at 04:12 PM
Poor Cid. She must hate progress and success. Sam's has done more in just a few years for the community than she can even dream of doing in her lifetime many times over.

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