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G’NIGHT: Flavor Del Mar

The Del Mar Plaza resto closes; holy damn that rent

By Troy Johnson

Is Del Mar Plaza in crisis mode? Or is the iconic mall just priming itself for a reinvention like Del Mar Highlands and Flower Hill Promenade?

Flavor Del Mar closed last night. Why? The rent, says owner Jeff Hunter. That perch at Del Mar Plaza is one of the most coveted in San Diego—and one of the most expensive. “I’d feel bad if our reviews were bad or the feedback was negative—but they were all positive across the board,” says Hunter. “Wolfgang Puck couldn’t make it work here.”

Flavor was a high-profile opening when it replaced Epazote in 2010 with former Arterra chef Jason Maitland at the helm. Maitland and Hunter parted ways after a bit, but the kitchen didn’t miss a step when Brian Redzikowski took over. Due to rent and some high-priced decor, the spot became an expensive proposition—limiting people to special occasions or a late-night cocktail. Everyday business in the dining room just wasn’t enough. “I love the property,” says Hunter. “But the rent caused us to have to be too fine dining for the economy. I want you to come every Friday night, not every birthday.”

One source says both Pacifica Del Mar and nearby Shimbashi Izakaya are experiencing plus-years. Another source says, nope—those spots are down, too, mostly because of the rent. Fact is, first the 12,000 square-foot Harvest Ranch Market vacated the premises in January. Now Flavor. Rough calculation, about 40% of the property is vacant.

That could prime the Plaza for a remodel akin to Highlands (Burlap, Rimel’s, etc.) and Flower Hill (which will house Cucina Enoteca 2 and the new restaurant from Urban Solace’s Matt Gordon). Or it could prime the Plaza for a hard reevaluation of its price per square foot. The answer depends on who you talk to.

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