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Greg Morris to rename Stone Fire Pizza, debut the Oaks gourmet store this spring

February 24, 2009 |  3:47 pm

Stonefire2 La Cienega Boulevard booster Greg Morris is moving forward with plans to rename and expand  Stone Fire Pizza, his latest concept on restaurant row. 

“We will tweak the menu a little bit, and [we] want to start to offer a few different entrees,” he said earlier this week via phone.  “Even though pizza remains our focus, we want to be versatile.”

Morris said the new name for Stone Fire, pictured, will be Oak Fire come summer. He will start easing the new name onto printed material next month, and in a few months the entire changeover should be complete. Oak Fire will also be the new name of the Sherman Oaks outpost of Stone Fire, which should open on Ventura Boulevard near Casa Vega by April, he said. 

Morris admitted part of the reason he wanted to change the name was because of customer confusion.  Westlake-based Stone Fire Grill has multiple Southland locations, and more are on the way at the growing chain (a Pasadena branch of Stone Fire Grill is set to debut this summer).

Oak Fire will also see expansion in 2009, according to Morris, once the new name and brand are established this spring at both the La Cienega address and the forthcoming Ventura Boulevard outpost.

In the meantime, Morris, who has done well for himself on La Cienega (despite the recession) with busy restaurants such as Belmont ('"We're only down 10% at Belmont," he said) and Spanish Kitchen, is readying his first retail endeavor miles from West Hollywood, the Oaks. 

The forthcoming gourmet market is set to bow by April in the old Victor's Liquor space along the busy Franklin Avenue corridor, near Birds restaurant.

“I live in that neighborhood, and there's nothing else around besides Gelson's,” Morris said. “I wanted to do something more along the lines of what you see now in New York, like a corner specialty market.”

So what will the Oaks carry?

The nearly 1,500-square-foot space will offer a wide selection of wine, boutique beer, cheese, caviar, sandwiches and sausage. In addition, a chef will create daily specials for takeout. 

“We're going to prepare different foods every day,” Morris said of the Oaks. “It will almost be a restaurant but for people in the area who just want to grab something on the go.”

Morris, who employs no publicist, said he understands that people are suffering during a very real recession, and that an upmarket boutique grocery store is only going to work if prices are kept in line with what area residents can afford.

“I'm going to keep my prices really low in order to help out the neighborhood -- even if it means just breaking even the first two years,” he promised.

The 37-year-old hopes to debut the Oaks within the next month or so.

-- Charlie Amter

Photo: Stone Fire Pizza (soon to be Oak Fire). Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times

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