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Long-awaited Callie restaurant in East Village to open June 4

Chef Travis Swikard on the eighth-floor patio at 1195 Island Ave., where his new restaurant Callie will open June 4.
(Howard Lipin / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Chef Travis Swikard’s California-Mediterranean restaurant, which has been held up by the pandemic, sets firm opening date

It’s been nearly 2 ½ years since chef Travis Swikard returned from a high-profile job in New York to his hometown of San Diego with the goal of opening his own restaurant.

It took a year to find the right location, the former Bottega Americano space at 1195 Island Ave. in East Village. But ever since then, Swikard’s California-Mediterranean restaurant has been held up by the pandemic. As COVID-19 restrictions are finally lifting, Swikard has finally set a firm opening date: June 4.

Callie has long been the most hotly anticipated restaurant in the region, and not just because it will help reactive East Village, which has seen several restaurants come and go over the past five years. Before he came home to San Diego in 2019, Swikard spent 10 years in New York, working for world-famous Michelin-starred French chef Daniel Boulud, including from 2016 to 2019 as culinary director for three of Boulud’s properties.

Swikard has partnered on Callie with Cohn Restaurant Group founder David Cohn and Cohn’s business partner, Deborah Scott. During the pandemic, Swikard built out the Callie space and supported his family by working for Cohn and Scott, doing other short-term cooking gigs and consulting on various restaurant projects. He was preparing to open Callie in December when the second COVID-19 surge hit.

Right now, he’s waiting for a revamp of the restaurant’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. The upper floors of the Island Avenue building were recently leased to a scientific company that will be building laboratories and clean rooms in the space that require a separate HVAC system. Swikard doesn’t mind the latest delay. He’s excited about the jobs the new science center will bring to East Village, where he hopes to become a longtime part of the neighborhood’s future.

“This has always been about us building ourselves into this community and helping the area get on its feet a little faster,” he said.

For details on Callie, visit instagram.com/callierestaurant.

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


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