Little Sparrow, to open in September at 3rd & Main in Historic Downtown Santa Ana, is the brainchild of husband & wife team and California natives Bruce Marsh and Naseem Aflakian. The couple is refurbishing the space after meeting & marrying in New York City and moving back to California. Naseem grew up in OC, residing in Santa Ana’s Floral Park neighborhood for over 10 years. Combining their extensive expertise and experience in food & business (including but not limited to Naseem’s Masters in Food Studies from NYU and several successful start-ups by Bruce) they are excited to bring a new concept to DTSA.
t♥a: Your menu concept is American Bistro with Mediterranean leanings. Can you let us in on any specialty dishes you will be offering?
LS: In many ways we’re still honing in on what it means to be an American Bistro with Mediterranean leanings. We’re doing a lot of testing of various recipes, so the menu is in flux. Some of the stuff we’ve tried is in the Kickstarter video, and some other pictures have been posted to Facebook. The challenge is to simultaneously feel classic and familiar without leaving our guests uninspired.
t♥a: Will you have vegan options on the menu?
LS: Yes. We’ve both spent periods exploring vegetarianism and veganism on a personal level, and fully understand how important it is to find balance in a diet.
t♥a: How early will you open? How many nights a week do you hope to stay open late starting out?
LS: Not final yet, but the general idea is that we open early (7:00 ish) for coffee, baked goods, and possibly an egg dish or two. Around 11:00am we transition into a variety hand-crafted sandwiches for lunch. We’ll close the doors for an hour or so in the afternoon and reopen at 5:00 or so for a romantic fine/casual dinner. The bar, which is separated from the dining room by a long hallway, will open about the same time as dinner and will have its own atmosphere. Whereas the dining room is a light and open candle-lit room, the bar will be a bit sexier and darker featuring expertly mixed craft cocktails.
We’ve applied for a permit to stay open late, and if granted, will likely remain open until 1:00 or 2:00 at least several nights a week.
t♥a: Will you have space for DJs or live music?
LS: No. It’s not the atmosphere we are trying to create. However, we are seeking a permit to be able to have live music on the chance someone wants to use the entire restaurant for a private event (weddings, company parties, etc.)
t♥a: What was it about Downtown Santa Ana that got your attention?
LS: Well, first off, the space at 300 N Main is quite amazing. Great light, high ceilings, and a lot of history. But downtown is very unique in OC in that it has great bones; lots of older and generally well taken care of buildings. And, we believe in the revival.
t♥a: What is your inspiration for the name Little Sparrow?
LS: Too many to list, but the big ones are Edith Piaf, the symbolic meanings of sparrows (friendship, solidarity, nurturing), and a bunch of little things we’ve encountered over the years that just made it feel right.