Prep Kitchen opening San Marcos location

The interior of Prep Kitchen, which will open June 5 in the Block C mixed-use development near Cal State San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune)

The first new location of the Prep Kitchen restaurant company, which changed ownership in January, will open next week in the Block C development in San Marcos.

Owners Deborah and David Krause purchased the three existing Prep Kitchen restaurants in La Jolla, Del Mar and Little Italy from the Whisknladle hospitality company.

The Krauses’ plan is to reinvigorate the Prep Kitchen brand and expand into new markets. Their first new location is at 250 N. City Drive in San Marcos. It’s slated to open on Tuesday, June 5. A fifth location in downtown Los Angeles, though not officially announced, is now listed as coming soon on the company’s website.

Customers at a pre-opening event this week sample the Wagyu beef sliders at soon-to-open Prep Kitchen in San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune )

Whisknladle launched the Prep Kitchen brand in La Jolla in 2009. It has long been known for its artisan, farm-to-table menu and indoor-outdoor venues.

The Krauses are the owners of IAM Hospitality Group in Las Vegas. Since 2010, they have worked in acquisitions, management and marketing for hospitality and culinary brands. Before that, Deborah Krause managed hotels, restaurants and nightlife venues with Starwood Corp., Kimpton Group, Starbucks and more.

Krause said she and her husband were longtime fans of Prep Kitchen, having visited the restaurants frequently with their 11-year-old son during vacations in San Diego from their home in Las Vegas. Once their son finishes school this summer, the family is planning a permanent move to San Diego.

“Our motivation is family motivated,” she said last week. “I always like to be in places where my family and friends can connect together and we can be inspired by the landscape of San Diego.”

A pair of Belgian linen couches connect the indoor and outdoor sections of the new Prep Kitchen restaurant in San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune )

Krause said purchasing Prep Kitchen was an easy decision because the restuaurants have such a positive perception with the public. But she also sees room for change.

“It has a future and it has more growth and we have the opportunity to take it to new locations,” she said.

The new San Marcos location takes over the space briefly occupied in 2017 by the woodfired pizzeria Stella Public House. The Krauses have dramatically remodeled the venue with more upscale, homey decor that includes plush Belgian linen sofas, hand-carved wooden tables and stools, luxurious pillows and new lighting and decorations.

“It’s chic, relaxed, swanky and cool,” Krause said. “You can come in your jeans and sneakers and be totally cool or you can do a date night, too, and get dressed up.”

Hand-carved wooden tables and stools are among the designer features at the new Prep Kitchen restaurant in San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune )

Because of their hospitality background in Las Vegas, Krause said she and her husband have introduced “vibe dining” to all Prep Kitchen locations.

“Vibe dining relates to the energy you feel when you come into a place,” she said. “It starts with the music, then you sit down and there’s a convivial atmosphere and then the food starts to flow. We like people to share things and there’s just a vibe about it. It’s an energy about the whole place.”

Since acquiring the Prep Kitchen company, the Krauses have hired a new chief culinary director, chef Joseph Elevado, whose past credits include executive chef positions at Nobu, Social House and Andrea’s Restaurant in Las Vegas.

Elevado’s new menu features specialties like the Nobu-inspired squid ink pasta, pan-roasted yellowtail, pasta Bolognese, Wagyu sliders, Vietnamese fried chicken cucumber salad, pizzas and more. The restaurant will have lunch, dinner and brunch menus.

For more information, visit the company’s website at

Wagyu beef sliders at the new Prep Kitchen restaurant in San Marcos.
(Pam Kragen/San Diego Union-Tribune )