By David Perloff / Photos by Brevin Blach
A bartender and a VIP bottle service host-slash-website editor walk into a bar... Actually, it's a restaurant - Table No. 10, a food-forward fare ground in East Village owned by Cooper McLaughlin, the same friendly guy who launched the site's previous incarnation, The Corner. Before that, the space was his loft apartment. Now it's got a talented chef and snazzy cocktails... talk about man cave. Jessica and Mark met for their blind date less than an hour ago in the Epic Limo that's about to drop them off at the restaurant. Before they arrive, let's review their predate interviews.
PacificSD: Where are you from and where do you live now?
JESSICA: I'm from Syracuse, New York. If you have the chance to go, don't. I currently live in Pacific Beach with aspirations to join the adult world Downtown in March.
MARK: I grew up in San Diego, spent some time away, went to The University of Arizona. Always knew I'd end up back here. Right know, I live in a little hidden gem of a neighborhood called Bay Park.
What do you do for a living?
JESSICA: I am currently the senior editor of SanDiego.com, which is a lot of SEO, content writing and editing, and marketing. I also book tables for nightclubs in San Diego.
MARK: I pour drinks at a couple of new hotspots, Florent Restaurant and Lounge in Downtown and the OB Noodle House Bar 1502 in OB.
What do you do for fun?
JESSICA: I either go out and turn up at a nightclub or stay home and turn on Netflix. Sometimes I go to the gym, too, but I'm not entirely sure if that's out of boredom or necessity.
MARK: I like cruising around to all the different neighborhoods to check out all the great known and not-so-known places to eat and drink. San Diego is so awesome - how we have all these different areas with different vibes so close to each other.
What are you best at?
MARK: I can throw down on the grill.
What do you suck at?
JESSICA: Math. And driving.
MARK: Shaving. If I could, I'd get a straight razor shave every three to four days.
What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
JESSICA: Ryan Gosling.
MARK: Physically, I don't really have a hair preference. Red, blonde, purple, whatever - bring it on. I've seen some sexy girls with all different types of stuff going on with their hair, but I definitely like a girl who takes care of herself and is a bit of an athlete. Other than that, someone who isn't shy and doesn't take themselves too seriously.
Describe your special brand of sex appeal in five words or less.
JESSICA: I'm pretty witty. Usually.
MARK: Championship level.
Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
JESSICA: After six shots, I'm at least a seven.
MARK: I'm going to go with a solid eight.
How about for personality.
MARK: Eight-plus-plus. I may come off a little shy, but after awhile, that's where the plusses come in.
What's your biggest fear?
JESSICA: Fish. Please don't make me explain this; I shudder.
MARK: Snakes. Snakes on a plane, snakes on the ground - wherever they are, I highly dislike those things.
What traits could your date exhibit that would be dealbreakers?
JESSICA: Being unintelligent, being offended easily or having no sense of humor.
MARK: Having bad breath, being very judgmental and being way too serious.
Fill in the blanks: I want my blind date to be "blank" and "blank."
JESSICA: I want my blind date to be fairly judged and thoroughly entertaining.
MARK: Fun and legendary.
Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
JESSICA: We will most likely ride into the sunset together and never look back.
MARK: One can only hope.
What's the most important thing in the world?
JESSICA: Coconut water after a night of drinking.
MARK: Happiness. I can't emphasize that enough.
When Jessica and Mark arrive at Table No. 10, they head upstairs and sit at a prime corner table overlooking 10th Avenue and J Street. While they're scanning the meat-focused "modern American" menu created by chef and co-owner Jason Gethin (formerly of Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas), a Flux Capacitor arrives at the table. A reference to Back to the Future, the dry-ice-chilled cocktail billows steams as it bubbles in a beaker before them.
Parking on the Dance Floor
The couple gets into the groove
After sharing a few small plates and toasting more cocktails, the blind daters jump back into the limo. Next stop: Air Conditioned Lounge in North Park, which now has a brand-new, pressure-sensitive, illuminated dance floor on which the King of Pop could have shot his next "Billie Jean" video (R.I.P., Mr. Jackson).
AC Lounge is packed as Jessica and Mark arrive and head back to the disco-fangled VIP room. A couple drinks later, and after lighting up (and lying down on) the light-up dance floor, they reboard the party train for the ride back downtown to AD Nightclub. Before entering the Gaslamp's new sanctuary of booming EDM beats and bottle service, they're split for mid-date debriefings.
PacificSD: How's it going so far?
JESSICA: So far so good, it's fun. We're both industry; we've gone to places where we've both known an abundance of people, and it's great.
MARK: It's going great. Jess is awesome, spunky, sporadic, fun - couldn't ask for anybody else to hang out with on a Friday night.
What were your first impressions?
JESSICA: He looked a little familiar, honestly, and it makes sense, because I looked familiar to him, too. We're both in the industry and have a lot of the same friends, so it was a good first impression.
MARK: She's hot, petite, fit - all the good things.
Is this the type of person you'd normally date?
JESSICA: No, but I usually date degenerate party animals, so that's actually a compliment.
MARK: Totally. She's got the same interests as me, knows the same people I know, all good things.
What do you think of the way your date is dressed?
JESSICA: He looks like he's about to go to AD Nightclub.
MARK: She looks hot.
How was Table No. 10?
JESSICA: Table 10 is dope. I love the way that they set it up, the way they have the bar. I really like the fake birds on the wall. And I love their signature cocktails, especially the one that was steaming with the dry ice - that was phenomenal. I wanted to drink it and breathe out like a dragon.
MARK: It was awesome, smelled great when we walked up the stairs, and the vibe in the whole place is excellent. Food was excellent; presentation was excellent.
What did you have to eat?
JESSICA: I had deviled eggs, beets and papas bravas [Spanish potato dish], and they were all phenomenal. And I'm vegetarian, so that's saying a lot.
MARK: I had deviled eggs, the citrus beet salad and the papas bravas. Everything was delicious.
How was AC Lounge?
JESSICA: There was a floor there that changed colors when you stepped on it. There were other cool things, too, but I didn't look up from that floor from the second I saw it to the second we left. How can I get one installed in my bedroom?
MARK: I liked AC lounge a lot; it's kinda got a funky '70s disco feel, and I thought it was pretty rad that we had our own tap.
What did you drink there?
JESSICA: We had shots of tequila.
MARK: Shots of tequila and the Saint Archer Blonde out of our very own VIP tap.
What's the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
JESSICA: He gets all of my jokes, all of them, and they're pretty witty. I'm, like, pretty awesome when it comes to telling jokes.
MARK: Her witty sarcasm that catches me off guard. I was expecting somebody to be in their shell, and she's just been straightforward the whole time.
What's the least attractive thing your date has done so far?
JESSICA: He knows a lot of people at weird, shitty dive bars - it's a little concerning.
MARK: She's on her phone too much.
What would your parents say if you brought your date home?
JESSICA: My mom would probably be really happy that he's a little less like what I've brought home previously.
MARK: She's on her phone too much.
Rate your date on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
JESSICA: Like, one million.
How about for personality?
JESSICA: Twelve and a half.
Do you want to kiss your date now?
JESSICA: I want to kiss a big bottle of Veuve. I don't ever want to kiss anyone on the first date.
MARK: I would do more than that.
Does your date want to kiss you?
JESSICA: Who wouldn't?
MARK: Probably not, she's got too much on her deck
Table No. 10
369 10th Ave., East Village
Message in a Bottle
And the writing on the wall
After their mid-date interviews, Jessica and Mark enter AD Nightclub, which looks like what a nightclub in heaven probably does, not counting all the sinners, of course. Stainedglass- window lighting effects make a visit here something of a religious experience; the daters show their devotion to the spirit of the night by popping a bottle of champagne. Once they've had a chance to toast (and chug), they're finally left to enjoy the rest of their evening away from the camera crew. The next morning, we call to see what we missed.
PacificSD: How was AD?
JESSICA: AD is dope. The décor reminds me of a cathedral, and the DJ booth is centrally located in a small space, so you feel like you're at a private party. The acrobatics are on point there, too - sort of like falling down a rabbit hole into a wonderland of fun.
MARK: AD is great I love that it's smaller and more intimate. The décor is unlike any other club around San Diego. I love the whole Goth feel.
Describe your booth and your experience in it.
JESSICA: VIP everything. We were in a booth pretty central to the DJ and right in the action, so we were fully immersed in all the AD fun.
MARK: We were right in front of the DJs and inline with the aerial artist - she's badass.
What did you drink there?
JESSICA: Veuve Clicquot. Duh.
MARK: Just a bottle of Veuve, no big deal.
Where did you go and what did you do for the rest of the evening after AD Nightclub?
JESSICA: Bassmnt... and then maybe Parq? Unclear. The last thing I remember is making a toast and suggesting we rage.
MARK: After we left AD, we stopped by Bassmnt and Parq. It was nice, because I'm never out on a Friday night and I got to see a few friends that work at each of the spots. That was a nice little treat.
When did you get home?
JESSICA: I was hosting a few of the Patriot players when they were in town, so I brought them over to a few after-club spots. I'm not entirely sure what time.
MARK: Around 2 a.m.
Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?
MARK: No kiss.
How and when did the date end?
JESSICA: We went over to Parq together, and then I had to flip into VIP-host mode, so we parted ways.
MARK: I took off after a bit at Parq. I said "hey" to a few of my friends and took off before Jessica took advantage of me.
What was the best part of the date?
JESSICA: The light-up floor. I felt like a cat chasing a laser pointer.
MARK: Getting to cruise around and check out spots I never really get to and seeing friends along the way.
What was the worst part of the date?
JESSICA: The hangover.
MARK: It didn't feel like much of a date, more of a hangout - not that I was looking for romance or a future ex-wife or anything, but I would've liked a little more typical date conversations-slash-situations.
Will there be a second date?
JESSICA: I'm sure I will see him all the time at Florent, if that counts.
MARK: No, I don't think so, but I'm one-hundred-percent sure I'll see her around. I definitely foresee myself buying her a drink when we run into each other, and maybe a lapper at Pacers sometime.
What's one thing your date really should know before going on another date?
JESSICA: Stop being so polite, dude. How are girls supposed to blast angry Taylor Swift songs about you when you're such a gentlemen?
MARK: Don't take yourself too serious.
What could have made this date better?
JESSICA: A private concert from Kesha.
MARK: Maybe if we didn't know so many common people, but that's just how working in bars and nightlife is.
What did you learn about yourself last night?
JESSICA: I really like dry-ice drinks, light-up floors and monster bottles of champagne.
MARK: I never get out much.
Jessica and Mark filled up at Table No. 10, laid down on the dance floor at AC Lounge, sat up in a VIP table at AD Nightclub and got down at Bassmnt and Parq. Despite all of the up-down-up-down, however, a love/sex/marriage (that's PacificSD's February issue theme, BTW) connection wasn't forged.
Ladies who "Don't take yourself too serious," if you want someone who can "throw down on the grill," you know where to find Mark. Guys, if you, like Jessica, "want to kiss a big a big bottle of Veuve," sign up for bottle service. And if you see Jessica at the club, please let her know we're disappointed in her "hosting a few of the Patriot players when they were in town." If she had hosted a couple Chargers instead, maybe we wouldn't have lost that game to New England.
Why is this night different from all other nights? For Finest City bon vivants out on the town, it ain't. It's every weekend and most "Industry" nights, which is what makes it so magical. Eat a meal, have some drinks, raise the roof... then call a cab (or Epic Limo). See you out there!
905 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp
Air Conditioned Lounge
4673 30th St., University Heights