The way Chef Alfie Szeprethy sees it, San Diegans were born to do brunch, and his company’s latest culinary concept aims to capitalize on that trend.
Szeprethy is the executive corporate chef for Ladeki Restaurant Group, which operates the Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill chain and 2-year-old Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria at Liberty Station. Now comes Toast Gastrobrunch, which is slated to open Monday in the former Pisco location in Carlsbad.
Szeprethy said brunch restaurants began proliferating in San Diego County about eight years ago and no matter how many new competitors enter the market, the pool of brunch diners keeps expanding.
“I feel like San Diego coined the whole Sunday Funday thing. Everyone here likes to get up early, and it’s a fun way to hang out and celebrate,” said Szeprethy, a Hungarian-born chef who joined the Ladeki group six years ago. “A lot of young people here are in the service industry, and they work weekends, so their days off are often midweek, but they still want to have that Sunday Funday experience.”
Before joining Ladeki, Szeprethy’s kitchen experience was in fine dining, with local stints at Top of the Market, Roppongi and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. He said he’s always longed to develop his own brunch concept because he enjoys making his own brunch at home every week.
Toast Gastrobrunch offers traditional breakfast/brunch items with a twist in a whimsically decorated venue.
“I’m shining a light on some old-school things people used to love and forgot about, and I’m bringing them back in a clever, punny way,” he said.
One example is the Elvis French Toast, with bruléed bananas, peanut butter, pork belly and honey. Another is the Green Eggs No Ham, with egg whites, asparagus, zucchini and scallions. There are also red velvet pancakes and coffee cake pancakes, made with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with walnut streusel.
Like Sammy’s, Toast has a few items inspired by the dishes company owner Sami Ladeki grew up eating in his native Lebanon. The Toast house specialty is Kanafeh, a Middle Eastern grilled-cheese style dish made with baked shredded phyllo dough, butter, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, orange flower water, simple syrup and chopped pistachios. There’s also Eggs in Purgatory, a sourdough bread bowl twist on the Moroccan shakshouka eggs-and-tomato skillet dish.
Prices start at $9 for avocado toast, made with house chimichurri, arugula, toasted almonds and olive oil. Most items range from $13 to $16. The highest-priced item is $25 for Prime New York steak and eggs.
Toast will offer a full bar, with three types of Bloody Marys, a couple flaming coffees, mimosas and a fruity Pimm’s cup cocktail.
Toast replaces the Carlsbad location of Pisco, which closed last month after less than a year of operation. Pisco’s Peruvian menu didn’t catch fire with Carlsbad diners, who complained they couldn’t find parking in the lot Pisco shared with Draft Republic restaurant/bar and In-N-Out Burger.
Toast will have the parking lot all to itself during breakfast service and it will close each day just as Draft Republic is opening in the afternoons. Before it was Pisco, the Carlsbad location was a Sammy’s for 22 years. Szeprethy said in its early years, the Carlsbad Sammy’s offered a breakfast service that grew so busy the cooks and servers couldn’t keep up, so it was discontinued. Now Szeprethy says he’s ready for the breakfast crowds.
“It’s always been a busy store, and it’s a good location,” he said. “There’s Legoland, the Flower Fields, the ocean and a million square feet of office space nearby. If it works, this is absolutely growable, and we’ll take it around to other locations.”
Hours: Opens on Monday, Feb. 4. Regular hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Where: 5970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad
Phone: (760) 438-1212
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