Love where you live!
LA MESA -- The Cohn Restaurant Group is being a bit more public about its plans for the former Gingham restaurant property on La Mesa Boulevard.
In a Union-Tribune story, David Cohn, the restaurant group's principal owner, acknowledged publicly that the sale is close to completion and gave a few hints of how his group hopes to succeed where others have failed.
Cohn said Deborah Scott and his operations manager Michelle Kveen, would lead the La Mesa effort. That's big news in itself because Scott has been one of the most successful entrepreneurial chefs in San Diego for years now. Her Indigo Grill in Little Italy and her work at Island Prime and C-Level Grill on San Diego's waterfront has been innovative and successful over a long period of time.
Cohn told the U-T he would be investing heavily in remaking the recently overhauled Gingham outdoor patio (see photo below right) into a more kid-friendly environment. Cohn wasn't announcing a name for the new restaurant yet, but he made it clear he was using two of his successful restaurants in Hilcrest and Ocean Beach to shape the "bistro" feel of the La Mesa location.
Those two restaurnts -- 100 Wines (above right) and Bo Beau (top photo) -- were recently visited by La Mesa Today and both offered a very different approach than was taken by Gingham and its failed predecessor Gio's.
Both Gingham and Gio's were completely adult-oriented and featured what might be called "big food.''
Both 100 Wines and Bo Beau shoot for a wider, more accessible audience. In both restaurants you are likely to see a young couple with a child in a highchair enjoying wine and mussels and in the next room, a large family gathered around a single table, sharing many small dishes family style. The restaurant manager knows the customers who often live in the neighborhood and visit frequently.
100 Wines is a sort of Italian-fusion while Bo Beau includes a more French-fusion -- the fusion bringing both the Italian and French together with an accessible American sensibility. (The French inscriptions throughout Bo Beau are accompanied with subtle English translations nearby.) They are neighborhood restaurants where the locals appear comfortable eating small or big depending on the night.
While eating at Gingham was usually a big, higher-calorie (and higher priced) outing, it is possible to walk into 100 Wines or Bo Beau several times in a week, mixing a wine and a collection of creative appetizers as a small, less-expensive meal as easily as signing on for a full-course meal at a higher price.
Both 100 Wines and Bo Beau menus feature virtually all their items at a price point of less than $20. The only item on both menus that exceeds $20 is a brown butter seared scallops dish priced at $21.50. Most appetizers, some of the most popular items at both restaurants, are between $8 and $12 and easily feed two.
Wines at 100 Wines are nicely bundled in $20, $30 and $40 categories that encourage a bottle purchase with a $6 for a single glass of an assortment of choices.
On a recent Friday, La Mesa Today visited Bo Beau, enjoyed two glasses of wine, and also shared a shimp and avocado flatbread and amazingly good crispy Brussels sprouts. It was more than we could eat and the bill was $46. 100 Wines' charcuterie board was equally good and, with a $20 bottle of wine, a light and inexpensive outing.
Needless to say, after a number of recent false starts at this eastern end of the La Mesa Village, having the Cohn group, with its history of success focusing on this target, this is great news for the city. Even the Cohn's will face the challenge of starting up a new restaurant just as the city is planning to dig up the street and redesign the entire end of town.
Still, the Cohn's are clearly getting the engine running for an August launch -- likely to be the best engine since Drew Ford was selling its models from this location decades ago.
Regulars at Bo Beau in Ocean Beach leave locks in the restaurant's rustic entry inscribed with a message of love for someone in their life.