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FIRST LOOK: Stella Public House & Halcyon

East Village gets coffeehouse, pizza, craft drinks and s'mores roasted tableside—under one roof

By Troy Johnson | Photography by Sam Wells

East Village in Downtown San Diego continues to wake from the economic coma. Tomorrow morning at 8AM, one of the area’s bigger projects cracks open—Stella Public House and Halcyon. It’s two successful sister concepts from Texas sharing the same 3,000 square-foot, indoor-outdoor space at the corner of 14th and Island (1429 Island Ave.) and a 1,500 square-foot patio with tables, couches and Adirondack chairs overlooking Downtown’s newest, as-yet-unnamed public park.

The first part of the day will belong to Halcyon, a modern coffeehouse and cocktail lounge (chocolate espresso martinis and Long Island iced coffees) started in Austin to rave reviews. It’ll be equipped with a La Marzocco espresso machine. Employees will get arty with your foam. They’ll serve breakfast (oats, frittatas, waffles), lunch (paninis, wraps, salads), snacks (baked brie, flatbreads, mac ‘n’ cheese sliders) and desserts (s’mores roasted table-side).

At 5PM each day, the other concept will open. Stella Public House is a San Antonio-based “farm to pizza” concept with craft beer and wine from owner John Long, who’s lived in San Diego for 12 years. “I have a buddy who had a 100-year-old starter dough from Naples that he’s been feeding and wanted to create an amazing pizzeria,” says Long. “So we did, and he’s been our executive pizza chef since day one.”

The Neapolitan-style pies are reportedly pretty special, for a few specific reasons. To start, Stella will use as much organic produce as possible. Long has also brokered a deal to use organic San Marzano tomatoes grown in California by Chris Bianco—owner of Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco, widely hailed as the country’s best. Instead of getting their mozzarella shipped from L.A. like most pizza joints, Long will have fresh curds delivered from Angelo & Franco. They’ll hand-pull fresh mozzarella in-house each day.

Giovanni Novella, a master pastry chef most recently of Isola Pizza Bar, will oversee pies in San Diego in a Forno Bravo Modena oven burning pecan and oak wood. They’ll also serve signature sides from the San Antonio location, like wild mushroom mac ‘n’ cheese and lamb meatballs.

Michael Burton and Danny Fitzgerald of Urban Strategies helped Long bring this concept to town. “We’ve been looking around for the right site for two years,” says Burton. “With this space, Stella and Halcyon have a free-standing restaurant building with four roll up garage doors onto a 60,000 square-foot park. That kind of location doesn’t exist in San Diego, let alone Downtown San Diego.”

The design? It’s one of the most indoor-outdoor spots we’ve seen since Station Tavern in South Park. Simple, modern, incredibly airy, colorful, cheerful, good. Enough jabbering. Please enjoy a look at the first known photos in the universe of Stella Public House and Halcyon.

Stella Public House and Halcyon

Sam Wells

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