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Spoke to Chris Walsh who closed his Hillcrest restaurant, Bite, August 30.  The reason?  It’s the economy stupid…and it seems that area diners love to drink more than to eat–so even though his menu was well-priced and good, it just was not enough to keep people coming back.

He mentioned also a few facts that many diners  don’t realize when it comes to eating out:  Most restaurants top costs are:  Labor, then rent, food and all the other costs such as  license fees, utilities, etc.  Most diners also don’t factor into the price of a meal the ability of the chef to create and deliver dishes based on their expertise and training.  When asked what he will do, he replied, “I’ll get a job.”

In Point Loma, the long running La Scala Italian Restaurant at Scott and Canon, will soon become Lighthouse Grill a concept from Fabio Speziali (Pomodoro and others) and Antonio Mastellone (Arrivederci and others).  Whatever these two create, we know it will likely be a hit here in Point Loma as Pomodoro has taken off with solid Italian food, nothing fancy, but well-priced and always good in a cozy, bustling room (and enclosed patio).

Charlie’s Best Bread opens Labor Day weekend in the old Con Pane space.  One thing Buzz already knows from buying their challah at the Hillcrest Farmers Market is that it is more expensive and a much denser, less satisfying loaf than that of the artisan bakery, Con Pane, now in Liberty Station on Historic Decatur and Dewey Roads.  Buzz will give their breads and other menu items a try.

Back in April, Buzz reported on Point Loma’s  Dolphin Motel’s expansion of a steakhouse and then heard it would be a coffee shop.  Lately, nothing seems to be happening…as the restaurant seems to be stuck in the Coastal Commission’s review.

5 thoughts on “Bite Goes and Charlie’s Opens

  1. It’s a sad and damning commentary on San Diegans that eat out that Bite could not stay in business. It was one of the best restaurants in all of San Diego for the quality of food, the reasonable prices and the kind and helpful staff. Were the portion sizes too reasonable for people? I, for one, appreciate not feeling bloated and tired after a meal.

  2. This last summer was a perfect storm. A weak economy coupled with atypical bad summer weather put some very worthy restaurants under. I don’t think the average diner has an understanding of how close the margins are for a full service restaurant even during a good economy. Its not San Diegans to blame though. Times are tight and veteran restaurateurs will tell you that they’ve never seen anything like this.

    • While I would agree with you about the sour economy, the weather here in San Diego, while dreary at times, would not have been called bad. We didn’t have rain, and it wasn’t blistering hot…not enough to ruin a restaurant. Chris Walsh said it well, however, when he noted that many in his area also prefer to take their meals more liquid (drink) than to sit and enjoy the fruits of a chef’s labor.

  3. I agree that San Diego doesn’t have enough diners that appreciate a true chef. While it is great that the San Diego restaurant scene is quickly growing, there may not be enough customers to support it. We don’t have ‘food tourism’ like SF, NY or even Portland. There just isn’t enough money on the street to support every restaurant that opens without a few going down.

    Let me quickly address the weather. The restaurant business in San Diego is seasonal with some ups and downs that can ‘usually’ be counted upon. January and September is always slow, thus restaurant week. The summer is a profitable time but a pattern of typically amazing weather accompanies this. My point is that most restaurants right now are breaking even, losing a little money or losing their shirts. Even the slightest negative change in the seasonal customer cycle can be the last straw.

    • And Buzz would add that diners in SD (where the weather is damned good most of the year) might learn to appreciate the food that the restaurants serve, if the restaurants upped their ante on service, service, service. Anyone who travels to NYC or say Portland (ME or OR) knows the weather isn’t swell all the time but the food and service stand far superior to just about any place here in San Diego. The economy plays a larger part now, and restaurants need to do their best to stand out with better service to match their food (at least many of them).


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