Neighborhood-centric restaurants with a focus on craft beer are headed to North Park and La Mesa, where they’ll replace the now closed Linkery and Gingham eateries that had been operated by high-profile San Diego restaurateurs.
Waypoint Public, which will be the new home for former “Top Chef” finalist Amanda Baumgarten, is conceived as a casual, affordable North Park venue that plans to offer more than 300 bottled craft beers, plus a 30-tap system that will focus on West coast brews. The heavy emphasis on beer comes from Brian Jensen, one of three partners in the restaurant deal and owner of the Bottlecraft beer shops in Little Italy and North Park.
Up until last month, the space at 30th Street and North Park Way was The Linkery, operated by Jay Porter for eight years. When he announced the restaurant’s closure, Porter, who also operated the now shuttered El Take It Easy in North Park, revealed little about why he was leaving, saying only “it’s time for us to move on.”
John Pani, one of the co-owners of Waypoint, said he believes that a more affordably priced menu than what had been offered at the Linkery, in combination with an extensive beer selection, will help boost the restaurant’s chances of succeeding financially.
“Brian and I had been working for a couple years to find a good restaurant location where we could do something neighborhood- focused with casual food and beer bar, and six months ago, we were able to work out a deal to purchase Jay’s position (where the Linkery was),” said Pani, who owns a small hotel in Little Italy and previously had worked with JMI Realty developing local hotel and restaurant concepts.
“We’re really trying to do something where people in North Park feel this is their neighborhood spot, where they can stand around and have a beer, and sit down and order food.”
The partners, he noted, plan to invest about $600,000 in the restaurant makeover. He expects it to open in early October.
Waypoint will also aim for a family-friendly vibe, carving out a space that will be outfitted with astro turf and bean bag chairs for kids, Pani said. Creating strong appeal for families is also a primary goal for the Cohn Restaurant Group’s new Bo Beau Kitchen + Garden, which will replace the Brian Malarkey eatery that had been the short-lived Gingham.
Philippe Beltran, who helped design the restaurant group’s Bo Beau in Ocean Beach, will oversee the reinvention of Gingham as a similar Mediterranean-style bistro but not an exact duplication. The large patio, said Beltran, will have dual designs, with one side more oriented to local “foodies” out for a romantic dinner and the other side outfitted with large picnic tables and playground families with young children.
The bi-level dining room inside, which will have a warmer, “Restoration Hardware” feel than the more industrial decor of Gingham, will be able to seat 70 to 90, while the outdoor area is large enough to accommodate as many as 100, Beltran said. Plans also call for a larger bar area where 24 craft beers will be served, he added.
The Cohn group is already hiring for the restaurant, which is expected to open the last weekend of September. Applications will be taken through Saturday at the restaurant location, 8834 La Mesa Blvd. Hours are 12 to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The menu for the new Bo Beau hasn’t been finalized yet, but diners can expect a few iconic items from the Ocean Beach restaurant like the crispy brussels sprouts, Beltran said.
Over at Waypoint, Baumgarten said her focus will be on California cuisine, but the preparation will be globally inspired. That’s evident in some of the dishes she’s already conceived:salt cod croquettes with Sicilian-style caponata and Salvadoran-style pupusas with oyster, bacon and jalapeño apple slaw. She also plans on having a selection of housemade sausages and charcuterie. Entrees, she said, will range from $12 to $18.
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