Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill is building its first free-standing restaurant in Northridge this year. The fast-casual restaurant will open to the public by the end of summer. The interior will feature natural materials including antique lanterns, wood fixtures and leather benches beneath galvanized steel tables. This will be one of four locations the company plans to open this year. For the past three years Sharky’s has focused on upgrading its looks to complement the food on its menu. Since 2012, the company has renovated about half of its 21 locations. What were once multi-colored red and orange tiled walls and porcelain floors now feature wood-paneled floors, brick walls, marble counters and a galvanized steel bar. “We’re going for the gastro-pub luxury feel,” said David Goldstein, chief operating officer. “There are definitely touches in here that make it feel upscale, and we want it to feel like the restaurant or bar that you’ve been going to for 20 years.” The Mexican restaurant boasts of its natural ingredients and innovative menu. Alongside its health-conscious food options, Sharky’s offers craft beer and hard cider and will be testing kombucha, a popular fermented drink, at its Northridge location. The Westlake Village company, which ranked number No. 35 on the Business Journal’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies last November, has built five corporate-owned stores and 16 franchises since its inception in 1992. “For the soon-to-open Northridge location, this is the first time we’ve built a 100 percent free-standing building from the ground up,” said founder and Chief Executive Steve Paperno in a statement. The 24,000-square-foot lot behind Wells Fargo at Nordhoff Street and Reseda Boulevard will include 40 parking spots and an outdoor patio with a communal fire pit. The company signed a 40-year ground lease for the property and started construction roughly 11 months ago. “We generally go into shopping centers or developments where we take an existing store at the end cap,” Goldstein explained. “This restaurant afforded us the opportunity to take the entire piece of land and to sign a long-term ground lease – which made very good economic sense for us.” Restaurants in Marina Del Rey and Thousand Oaks will follow the Northridge opening this summer, and the company’s first location outside of California will open in Tualatin, Ore. in the fall. Sharky’s officials researched different markets outside of California and settled on Oregon when franchise candidates Matt van Steenwyk and Charise Sargent expressed interest in opening a restaurant. The company signed an agreement with the father-daughter duo to develop five restaurants in the Portland, Ore. market. “We wanted to grow and felt that Oregon, Arizona and Nevada were our natural extensions (especially because) we had distribution in those areas,” Goldstein said. Galleria Gains Glendale Galleria has a new senior general manager, just one month after announcing six new tenants coming to the mall this summer. Brent Gardner previously served as general manager at a 25-acre regional center in Memphis, Tenn. prior to coming to Glendale. His position at the Galleria, owned by General Growth Properties in Chicago, was effective May 8. “Brent’s proficiency within the shopping center industry will be a welcomed addition to the Glendale Galleria team,” said Carol Jacobs, vice president of asset management for General Growth. Gardner arrives in time to welcome new stores to the mall. They include Cotton On Kids, Adidas, Vince Camuto, Quiksilver and Zara. A new restaurant, Farmer Boys, will open in the mall’s food court. The 1.5 million-square-foot shopping center is anchored by Bloomingdale’s and JCPenney and has about 250 tenants, according to its website. Christina Riojas, marketing manager at the mall, said the new tenants will complement the current retail mix. “(The new tenants) will garner strong retail traffic and will be welcomed by our customer base,” she said in a statement. Lancaster TBID Plans are underway for a three-story, 88-room Best Western hotel in Lancaster, located across the street from the JetHawks baseball stadium. The 47,000-square-foot hotel will include a pool and other amenities, and will join the city’s Tourism Business Improvement District. “We couldn’t be happier to have a new Best Western coming to town,” said Vern Lawson, economic development director for the city. “We know that tourism and Lancaster doesn’t roll off the tongue like San Diego, but we have a lot of special events and we’re proximate to 10 million people over the hill.” The city started its TBID roughly two years ago, and hopes to raise $230,000 by charging participating hotels a 2 percent bed tax. According to Lawson, the parcel at 2038 W. Avenue I has been vacated for years. The city does not know when construction will be complete. Staff Reporter Champaign Williams can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.