Photos by Kate and Michael Auda
Chef Brian Redzikowski has his eye on greener pastures thanks to The Grass Skirt, the SDCM group's newest beach-area hospitality venture.
Recently named SDCM corporate executive chef, Redzikowski will also preside over the under-construction Good Time Poke, which, along with The Grass Skirt, replaces the former Good Time Charlie's on Grand Avenue in Pacific Beach. A "hidden" tiki bar accessible through a secret entrance, The Grass Skirt is likely to become a prime hideout, offering Polynesian-esque drinks and chow that wowed your great-grandparents' generation. In fact, the nostalgic genre is enjoying such a strong resurgence that another tiki joint is also in the works in the neighborhood.
"The minimalistic environment and laser focus on fresh fish at Good Time Poke by day," says Redzikowski, "will pose a stark contrast to the otherworldly experience to be had inside The Grass Skirt, which will serve Asian-Hawaiian dishes at night." After the new place starts rocking, the chef will spend the bulk of his time at Kettner Exchange (KEX), the Little
Italy flagship of SDCM, whose growing empire includes P.B.'S FIREHOUSE American Eatery + Lounge; Vin de Syrah and Analog in Gaslamp; and Devil's Dozen, the wickedly creative donut den adjacent to KEX.
"I want to get the whole culinary team together on the same page and under the same umbrella, so it won't be like one restaurant is better than the others," says Redzikowski of his new post. "I'm low- key; I try to do my thing."
One of these things was revamping the FIREHOUSE menu.
"We switched the menu to the seasonal approach of Kettner Exchange," Redzikowski says. "The food reflects the beach. It's sort of upscale bar food." (As in Chicago-style mini hot dogs that bark three to a plate.)
Redzikowski grew up around New York state, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and learned to love New York City while cooking at Le Cirque 2000. When invited to prepare two stylish dinners at the James Beard House, a Manhattan prestigious culinary landmark funded by selling tickets to dinners made by top chefs, he jumped at the opportunity.
"It took a lot of money and a lot of time," he says of an experience that lasted nearly a week. "We took five significant people from the KEX kitchen and we had full houses for our dinners."
One was themed around seafood from Canada's rich Skuna Bay, and the Friday finale featured the creative fare served at KEX.
"My biggest thing was showing NYC and its diversity of food to my cooks," Redzikowski says. "I love New York."
The Grass Skirt and Good Time Poke - coming late 2016
910 Grand Ave., Pacific Beach