Love where you live!
Bo-beau La Mesa Readies To Open
LA MESA -- There were sign-makers hanging the new name. Welders were adding railings to the patio as landscapers continued planting. Training classes were underway upstairs and, in the kitchen, the new young team of chefs and assistants were learning to execute the menu as stencil artist Gina Faulk amazingly added French ambience to blackboard walls.
This was Wednesday afternoon at Bo-beau Kitchen + Garden and Philippe Beltran (photo above) was tired.
"It's crazy,'' said the restaurant designer the Cohn Restaurant Group assigned to remake the corner of La Mesa Boulevard and Allison Avenue. "We are doing so much, but it is starting to take shape. We passed all our inspections! It is all good.''
La Mesa's newest restaurant will have a soft, partial-menu opening for the Oktoberfest crowd this weekend and then close again before re-opening for good the following Friday.
Watching the transformation of what had been the Gingham Restaurant has been a study in both restaurant design and teamwork. Beltran, who designed both 100 Wines and the Bo-beau in Ocean Beach has had to soften what had been a hard, almost industrial-edged L-shape restaurant and turn it into a French Bistro.
Outside, on a patio that may eventually hold 100 people, he has had to create distinct, comfortable spaces out of a large outdoor area that never achieved anything close to cozy under previous restaurants. Beltran's answer is to divide the area between small table spaces, a private party area and a larger, picnic table space conducive to family gatherings.
The top of a bar that Gingham had used as a long fire pit will be transformed into a European rock garden with miniature cars.
There was still much work to be done, but with just 48 hours left before opening, Beltran was happy. He was complimenting La Mesa and its officials for helping surmount the regulatory hurdles and vowed to be ready to give La Mesa at least a taste of the Cohn style during the heavily attended Oktoberfest.
Beltran's wooden floors and bistro tables were finally on site and heading to final locations. He closed the western-most of the two bars that Gingham had juggled and created a more comfortable and serviceable space where the Gio wine bar had been two restaurants ago.
Bo-beau will now have a clear entry way and a comfortable waiting area and Beltran has used hanging light fixtures throughout to give the feeling of a lower ceiling and less cavernous space.
On this Wednesday it was back in the kitchen where the restaurant was starting to look and feel most ready for the looming start of business. Young chefs, sous chefs and dishwashers were gathered at prep tables learning the meticulous work that precedes the execution of good food.
Chef Benjamin Moore was the leader of the pack and, on this day, he had the help of a friend and former colleague, Amiko Gubbins, whose Parallel 33 Restaurant in Mission Hills was, for many years, one of San Diego's best, most creative dining experiences.
Gubbins recently had joined the Cohn group to work on special projects and this week that meant helping her friend Moore and his new team execute this shakedown cruise.
Opening a new restaurant of this caliber is clearly a demanding, creative undertaking, but it couldn't be happening in a more welcoming atmosphere. Throughout the afternoon, as local residents walked their dogs and jogged by, more often than not they would stop a worker and ask for an update.
News of the impending opening was greeted, on more than one occasion, with a cheer.
Clearly, La Mesa is pulling for the Cohns to succeed in what has been a storied plot of land in the heart of its beloved Village.
"It's always been our favorite place,'' one jogger stopped to say. "We can't wait for you to open. We'll be here.''