Bistro-Feel Coming To Gingham Site

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.




Views: 1505

Tags: 100 Wines, Bo Beau, C-Level Grill, Cohn Restaurant Group, David Cohn, Deborah Scott, Gingham, Gio's, Indigo Grill, Island Prime, More…Michelle Kveen


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Comment by Jimmy Sanders on June 16, 2013 at 7:38am

The Bistro angle was tried before. Hope it works this time!

Comment by Jan Farley on June 13, 2013 at 5:35pm
Finally something that will likely work in La Mesa, not be too expensive, but won't be the same-o same-o. I enjoy all their other restaurants so this will likely be a great addition to La Mesa.
Comment by Kevin G George on June 13, 2013 at 4:17pm

Oh, sorry Helen.

I didn't mean to bring you down, just shining the light of reality where pretentious darkness reigns.

Figure it out, upscale high priced places for the cool to be seen, do not fit in LM. Look down the street, see any successful such establishments? What ARE the successful enterprises? Johnny Bs and San Fillipos do great, does that tell you anything?

When will folks realize this is EAST COUNTY? As much as you want to ignore this fact this will never be land of the cool, if want the beach, save up and move there.

Two have tried and failed where a family diner survived for years. The Cohn Group may be successful, and more power to them.

My purpose was to tell them how to succeed in LM.

Comment by Marie McLaughlin on June 13, 2013 at 4:03pm

The Cohn venture sounds like a good fit for the Village.  We have lots of great casual restaurants, so a fancier atmosphere would be nice.  As long as it's family friendly and has a reasonably priced, diverse menu with healthy choices, the new venue should do well.

Comment by DEXTER LEVY on June 13, 2013 at 3:54pm

Thank You Helen, You're the Best!

Comment by helen t. givens on June 13, 2013 at 2:18pm

why oh why are sme folks so terribly negative. And why, if they must have that mindset do they feel the need to share it with others.  Why don't we have a positive attitude about this new venture and hope and plan for it to be the greatest eating place in the area. Let's applaud the Cohn group, welcome them to The  Village and enjoy some good times.

Comment by Kevin G George on June 13, 2013 at 2:13pm

Third time's the charm?

I'm just a guy who has lived in LM for over 60 years who thinks he knows this town, for whatever that is worth.

Here is a free million dollar idea for the Cohn Restaurant Group: Go over to Lemon Grove to Coops BBQ, pick up that whole operation and drop it at this location in LM. The people of LM will beat a path to your door. 

But in case you would rather be cool than make money......simply double the prices for those that think if they pay double it MUST be really cool. Unfortunately that theory only lasts until the shine wears off  in about a year, as history has shown us.

Comment by Stephanie Murphy on June 13, 2013 at 2:11pm

It is wonderful news that a trusted long-time restaurant group like Cohn is going to open a bistro-style restaurant in that space.  We currently drive out of La Mesa to dine at to the Prado, Blue Boheme, Farm House Cafe, Island Prime, Jimmy's Famous, Piatti, Bo Beau, etc.  It would be nice to have a restaurant like these in the Village.  We are big fans of the above, but sometimes we don't want to make the drive!  And with La Mesa's beautiful weather year round, that patio is just begging for outdoor dining.  A couple of notes for the Cohn group:

1) please don't bring those uncomfortable metal bicycle seat high chairs used at Gingham back, they are torture devices.

2) if you plan to re-use the Gingham wood seating on the patio, please make sure you sand them down; they snagged my favorite pair of pants and ruined them.

3) that upstairs loft area needs some sound dampening.

4) just because we live in East County, doesn't mean we are hicks...we are the same customers that are driving to your other restaurants around the county to get a nice meal.  While we are not hicks, the folks that live "out here" aren't pretentious either.

- we want comfortable seats and we don't want to be packed in like sardines
- we don't go to restaurants to be "seen in the scene" and perch on tiny little bar stools, we've got manly men who may not fit into your booths if you don't make them big enough
- please take reservations; no one wants to wait a hour for a table after they just sat in an hour of traffic to commute home to La Mesa
- we like to go out to breakfast
- we'd like to have our dogs with us out on that large patio
- we are adventuresome eaters...we have successful Himalayan, Russian, and Vietnamese restaurants in town
- we have friends and relatives we like to spend time with and sometimes need a table that can seat 15-20

5) - we already have good non-pretentious Mexican, Hamburger, Seafood, and Italian restaurants in town...some decades old...and we're loyal to them - give us something different, please!

Comment by John C Schmitz on June 13, 2013 at 1:26pm

Sitting through City Council meetings AND dragging yourself to restaurants for research.  Why did you choose such a traumatizing profession? :-)  I just hope a recent experience we had at the Cohn's C Level restaurant on Harbor Island isn't a performance trend for the chain.  We had a disappointing dinner experience and wrote a letter to the corporate office.  Never heard a word back one way or the other.

Comment by Kelli DeMent on June 13, 2013 at 11:52am

We are thrilled to hear the Cohn Group is coming to La Mesa!  And we were hoping for something French since this cuisine is missing from the dining choices here.  Bonus:  Love the "kid friendly" idea, too, as my husband and I have a 3-month-old.  We are all about supporting local business...  Fingers crossed that the Cohn's can capitalize on a beautiful dining space in such a great city!

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