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As some restaurants fall to the pandemic, new ones rise

The outdoor dining room and bar at The Presley at Liberty Station.
The outdoor dining room and bar at The Presley, which opened at Liberty Station on July 29.
(Courtesy photo)

News about Liberty Station openings and the closures of The Balboa in Bankers Hill and Cafe on Park in Hillcrest

Aided by a plentiful supply of outdoor seating, Liberty Station has become a hot spot for new restaurant openings as the pandemic stretches on. Three new restaurants have opened at the former Navy base near Point Loma since June and several more are on the way in the coming months. Information on all of the restaurants below can be found at libertystation.com/directory/eat.

  • Fluster Cluck Hot Chicken, a Nashville-style fried chicken outlet launched by Jacob Bartlett and Eric Gallerstein of San Diego’s Mastiff Sausage Co., replaced a shuttered hot chicken stand in Liberty Public Market on July 17. Its menu includes crispy chicken sliders, cheesy chicken fries and chicken and waffles with a sliding scale of spiciness.
  • Eggies, a walk-up breakfast sandwich and churros window developed by the Rise & Shine Hospitality Group, opened in June at 2400 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 103.
  • The Presley, a mostly outdoor restaurant/bar owned by Good Time Design, opens July 29 in the former Fireside by the Patio location on Perry Road. Its menu includes shared appetizers, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, tacos, burgers and grain bowls.
  • Con Pane, the beloved bakery cafe that shut down unexpectedly in January at 2750 Dewey Road, Suite 105, will reopen in September under the new ownership of the Cohn Restaurant Group. It will serve most of its original menu at its original location.
  • White Rice, a new Filipino food concept from National City restaurateur and recent champion on Food Network’s “Chopped” series Philip Esteban, will occupy a large anchor space in the Liberty Public Market this fall.
  • Flat Top Fattys, a burger and milkshake business, also helmed by Fluster Cluck duo Bartlett and Gallerstein, will take over another shuttered booth at Liberty Public Market in the fall.
The Balboa burger at The Balboa Bar & Grill.
The Balboa burger at The Balboa Bar & Grill in Bankers Hill, which closed in July 2020. A second location remains open in Chula Vista.
(Balboa Bar & Grill)

Cafe on Park, The Balboa call it quits

Two popular neighborhood restaurants in central San Diego announced permanent closures in July: Cafe on Park and The Balboa Bar & Grill.

On July 17, Cafe on Park owner Andy Haenfler closed the 25-year-old Cafe on Park in Hillcrest for good. In a post on Facebook, he said it was a difficult decision to make, but business at the breakfast/lunch cafe had been declining steadily over the past year because of growing competition from other new restaurants opening nearby.

On July 20, The Balboa Bar & Grill in Bankers Hill held its last call. Owner Tom Logsdon wrote in a Facebook post that he couldn’t operate the small indoor-only business profitably during the pandemic. The pub was famous for serving one of San Diego County’s most popular and affordable hamburgers, known as The Balboa. Fortunately for burger fans, Logsdon opened a second location, called The Balboa South, last fall at 290 Third Ave. in Chula Vista.

“It’s a hard blow, but nothing compared to the huge number of people that have lost their lives, health, or someone that they love in this pandemic,” Logsdon wrote. “It’s a sad day that I have to break this news to you all, but I think that our best shot at making it through all of this is to pare back, consolidate, and try to weather this storm.”

Waterbar opens rooftop dining deck

Two-year-old Waterbar restaurant/bar may have one of the best ocean views in Pacific Beach, but all of its tables were indoors, so it stayed closed for months. But in late July, a new alfresco, socially distanced dining room opened on the restaurant’s roof serving a pared-down and more affordable summer menu. Items include peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, scallop ceviche, lobster roll, salads and cheeseburgers. Waterbar is at 4325 Ocean Blvd. in P.B. Visit waterbarsd.com.

Kragen writes about restaurants for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Email her at pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com.


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