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Some braving downturn, opening businesses

Even as the economy continues to challenge merchants and restaurateurs, some previously vacant properties are gaining new tenants.

The vacant retail space on the corner of Girard Avenue and Pearl Street, previously inhabited by an Indian restaurant, has been taken over by Ferrari & Maserati of So Cal LLC, now located across the street at 7477 Girard Ave.

The space - marked last week by boarded up windows - is being turned into a new showroom for the firm’s Ferrari line, while the Maserati showroom remains in place, according to Ferrari & Maserati’s receptionist, Michelle Choi.

Around the corner on Fay Avenue, there’s a new yogurt shop about to open, Dolci Mango, and a new Thai restaurant that’s already open, Thai Pan Cuisine.

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Around the Villag

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The spot where Hard Rock Cafe was until several months ago - at 909 Prospect St. - has been leased by a French concern, California French Way LLC, said Michael Spilky, principal of Location Matters, a restaurant-retail brokerage, which represented the landlord, Prospect Holdings LLC.

“It’s going to be a French restaurant,” he said. “There’s no name yet.”

The roster of yogurt stores added another name last week with the opening of Yogi Topi at the corner of La Jolla Boulevard and Pearl Street in space formerly occupied by JEP women’s apparel.

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On the other side of the coin, Panini Cafe at 811 Prospect St. closed Feb. 1 after about two years in the spot formerly occupied by IHope, said Catherine Smith of the restaurant’s Newport Beach headquarters. “It was the economy,” she said.

Down in Bird Rock

Bird Rock has seen some changes too, with Cass St. Cafe & Patio, at 5550 La Jolla Blvd., taking the place of The French Pastry Shop, which has a long history dating back some 20 years. The new owner also has the Cass St. Bar & Grill in Pacific Beach.

The retail space at 5544 La Jolla Blvd. next to Capricorn Boutique is available for lease. Previous tenants, Ben and Matt Murphy owners of Bird Rock Surf, have moved to larger quarters across the boulevard in the space most recently inhabited by San Diego Prestige and Phoneware.

Also in Bird Rock the former Funxion Fitness at 5705 La Jolla Blvd. has new a new name. Now known as Sharpe Fitness, it is owned by personal trainer Brandie Sharpe.

“It’s still just a personal training studio,” said Sharpe, noting that they also offer a wide range of classes.

Nobody has stepped into Bully’s La Jolla, the landmark Bird Rock eatery and watering hole at 5755 La jolla Blvd., which was owned by Charles T. Becker and wife Beverly Yuhause-Becker for 42 years.

The property, complete with memorabilia, the Bully’s trademark and a licensing agreement. went on the market last week, said John M. Foley of BTI Group/Business Team.