After 36 years, Clay Oven, the Irvine restaurant that introduced modern Indian cuisine to Orange County, is moving. The restaurant, run by Head Chef Geeta Bansal and her husband Praveen, will move to a commercial kitchen in Costa Mesa on December 1st.
The last day of cooking in Irvine is Thanksgiving. Geeta Bansal will be offering take-out as well as delivery from the new room from December.
Bansal says she made the decision to move after her landlord told her that if she renewed her lease, which expired at the end of the month, her rent would increase.
“We originally moved to Irvine because it’s a very diverse, accepting community,” said Bansal. “We are an independent restaurant. We don’t have any investors. ”
Despite securing the commercial kitchen space, Bansal and her husband are still looking for a new permanent location for the restaurant, but they do not expect it to open for another three to four months.
“We are currently negotiating our new home,” she said. “The restaurant is our home.”
The clay oven was closed in March after shutdowns were ordered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant offered take-away and delivery shortly afterwards. Bansal says she has paid full rent since it closed. Unlike Los Angeles, Orange County has no fee cap for delivery companies, and Bansal states that it pays delivery companies fees of 25% or more.
“It’s not the space that makes us, it’s our passion and the food we do,” she said. “We will keep that.”
Bansal is optimistic about the restaurant’s future, but says it is “painful” to leave the location after so many years and after so many memories. She’s hosted everyone here over the years, from the Grateful Dead to astronauts and Robert Englund.
“It was a good run and it will continue,” she said.
350 Clinton St., Suite A, Costa Mesa, (949) 552-2851, Clayovenirvine.com