Luby’s site on East Mockingbird Lane. Photo by Renee Umsted.

Veteran restaurant operator Jon Alexis has closed on the purchase of the old Luby’s site on the north side of East Mockingbird Lane between Skillman and Abrams.

The site totals 2.2 acres and includes the existing 5,000-square-foot building.

The Advocate first reported on Alexis’ planned acquisition of the real estate from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in December 2021. At the time, the City head-faked Alexis, first requiring a variance to serve alcohol and then ruling a few days before the hearing that he didn’t need one.

Alexis is the owner/operator of TJ’s Seafood Market and Malibu Poke. Recently, he announced that Escondido Tex-Mex Patio will open at Preston and Royal in the old Ruggeri’s space. Alexis says he’s shooting for a Fall 2023 opening date for the Mockingbird restaurant.

Sarah Lamb of The Retail Connection represented St. Thomas and Michael Miller of Stablemade and Walker Hairston of Falcon represented Alexis.

St. Thomas clearly proceeded with caution in the transaction as the school, serving kids in pre-K through third grade, remains next door. In the deed transferring the property to Alexis, extensive restrictions exist on what the new owner can and cannot operate. The list of excluded uses is here and includes adult entertainment, any manufacturing use, a “head” shop, or a restaurant similar to Hooters or Twin Peaks. A facility providing abortion services or contraceptive distribution is also prohibited, but this restriction “shall not apply to a facility counseling in support of the sanctity of life consistent with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

The deed also includes a lengthy Right of First Refusal and a Right of First Offer, essentially giving St. Thomas the right, with exceptions, to buy back the property should Alexis offer the property for sale or lease.

The provisions provide guardrails on what can and cannot happen on a site adjacent to a single-family neighborhood and a school, while also allowing the school to potentially regain possession of the site if things go sideways.