After eight long years, one of the most iconic and prized restaurant locations in San Diego is finally getting a new tenant. The Top of the Cove—the 13,222 square-foot landmark location on Prospect Street—will now become Duke’s.
Duke’s is a chain of surf-culture restaurants named after surf legend Duke Kahanamoku. The first were opened in Hawaii and then expanded into SoCal (Huntington Beach, Malibu). It’s owned by one of the largest, family-owned restaurant groups on the west coast, T S Restaurants, which has home offices in Solana Beach and Maui. Duke’s will be their second San Diego restaurant (Jake’s Del Mar was the first), and their fourteenth waterfront property (including Sunnyside in Lake Tahoe).
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to create a dining experience specifically for this unique landmark location,” says CEO Bill Parsons. “In the tradition of T S Restaurants, we look forward to providing guests with a magnificent setting along with delicious food and striking décor inspired by Duke Kahanamoku and the beach lifestyle here in La Jolla.”
The deal was brokered by Michael Burton and Danny Fitzgerald of Urban Strategies Group. “La Jolla has the best weather in the country,” explains Burton, a La Jolla native. “But we didn’t have a family place where we could sit outdoors overlooking the water, and have a great meal in a more casual environment.”
“Ownership’s goal was to bring additional traffic to Prospect Street, instead of dividing up the existing clientele by doing another ultra high-end, luxury concept,” he explains. “We wanted a high-quality operator with a proven track record, and we wanted to create a different experience.”
Top of the Cove first opened in 1955. It was the crown jewel of Prospect for decades, a place to prove you hadn’t forgotten your wedding anniversary. After swapping owners multiple times, it finally closed in 2006 and has been vacant since—the most high-profile reminder of the ailing economy. Owner Sheila Lipin spent millions renovating the property and put it on the market for $7.5 million in 2011.
Now two stories, the plan is for a more casual bar upstairs and a dining room on the bottom floor. La Jolla’s Marengo Morton Architects will handle the build-out along with Hatch Design Group (Island Prime, Jimmy’s Famous) and SixteenFifty (Rancho Valencia, L’Auberge). They’re shooting for a fall 2015 open.
Mai tais and Hula Pies for everyone.