Oswald has decided on its next home — at the corner of Soquel and Front Streets, home of the former Garage sports bar. And the deal just needs a few tweaks to be finalized. Downtown Redevelopment Director (and killer bridge player) Ceil Cirillo is, in a word “stoked” about the prospect of having a terrific bistro as the entrance to downtown Santa Cruz. “I am excited about the potential for everyone,” Cirillo told me. “We intend to build out the rest of the garage frontage on Front Street so that Oswald’s won’t be alone. They intend to close the entrance from the garage and only have an entrance from Front Street. It’s exciting!”

Also excited is Oswald’s Eric Lau, who concurs that the lease negotiations are in process, and prophecies, “probably 4 to 6 months until completion – though it’s hard to speculate.” Lau believes the whole Front Street area is “improving a lot,” pointing to plans to turn the former Santa Cruz Hardware into a clothing store, and the Octagon into a coffeehouse. Like many of us, Lau looks forward to “a cleaner, more friendly downtown.”

Whoa. Did he say “Octagon into coffeehouse?” Yes he did. And here’s why. Lulu’s @ the Octagon is almost a reality as you read this. Thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Lulu’s proprietor, Manthri Srinath, in alliance with the Museum of Art & History, the old 1882 Hall of Records at the corner of Front & Cooper Streets is being transformed into a showcase for artisan roasted coffees and selected organic foods. Things are definitely looking vibrant for the Abbott Square area, especially with Vinocruz in the act.

After your cappuccino at the new Lulu’s @ the Octagon, rush on over to the corner of Soquel and Front Streets and see if you don’t think Oswald will make the perfect entrance to downtown.