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Is Toronado doomed?

San Diego's Toronado
(Peter Rowe / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The landmark beer bar in North Park’s 30th Street Craft Corridor is for sale

On Jan. 18, Ian Black announced the impending sale of Toronado, his tavern at the heart of North Park’s 30th Street Craft Corridor. A cousin of the fabled Toronado beer bars in San Francisco and Seattle, this 12-year-old bar had forged its own tangled legacy.

Our Toronado had rare beers, inexpensive dining — where else can you find a flat iron steak dinner for $11? — and a who’s-who-in-craft clientele. I’ve shared pints here with Fritz Maytag, the man behind Anchor Steam; Rob Tod, founder of Maine’s Allagash Brewing; and Stone’s co-founder, Greg Koch.

Yet as Black wrote on Instagram, “we are probably heading for the exit, and I’ll have a lot more to say on this in the coming days...”

As of this week, this message hadn’t been updated. A visit to the bar, which remains open, failed to yield further information. Black did not return several calls and emails.

On social media, fans laud Toronado’s beers, grub, vibe. On those platforms, though, plenty of critics complain about the customer service. In my own experience, this is remarkably varied. You can have a great night, or leave feeling ignored and insulted.

Other signs of trouble emerged last May, when Toronado abruptly turned over its kitchen to a vegan restaurant, Anthem. This experiment was as brief as it was unpopular; within months the soybean burritos were out and the earlier carnivore-friendly fare back in.

Can this local landmark be saved? Stay tuned.


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