I'm just really curious about the old Calendula spot....so much money went into it when Calendula had the space & it just doesn't seem inviting enough from the street regardless how beautiful it is.
You can make a popular restaurant out of an old house--look at The Farm. However, the house on Hawthorne is too imposing, and, as you say, not inviting. It's more "fussy old aunt with doilies all over the place" old house as opposed to "cool hipsters down the block" old house. I don't know what it will take to change that. They could start by putting a menu board down at street level; I've never understood why none of the places that have gone in there have done that. Why ask people to climb 15 steps to see what's on the menu?
Also, they should do more local neighborhood outreach. Look at what positive word of mouth did for Lauro down on Division. Dave Machado has said numerous times that they get a huge % of their business from repeat customers in the neighborhood. The Calendula spot is in a prime area for this kind of thing, but neither Calendula or Chef Tucker's ever bothered to send sample menus around or anything of the sort. I was always surprised about that--I think the neighborhood is more than ready to support a decent place.