The story of Fishtank begins in the dark ages (the unglamorous months surrounding 2020). These times saw home bakers becoming sourdough savants while former pothos killers metamorphosed into doting plant parents. Four engineers—bonded by their office fish tank—had something different on their radar: plans to anonymously build a woodsy, industrial sports bar serving sea-themed cocktails in the space that once housed Blonde Bar.
Blonde Bar was for rebels. The black-walled locale—formerly the mighty Bar Dynamite—sat at the base of Mission Hills at the north end of International Restaurant Row, where it hosted several emo, pop-punk, and indie music nights. The building’s bones, and more importantly, its location, proved ideal.
“We wanted something in the center of the city. It had to be accessible to everyone,” says one of the owners, who asked to keep his name out of the damn press.
The owners’ affinity for construction and design fueled their confidence when undertaking a complete remodel. The décor is steampunk-inspired, with teardrop lighting fixtures suspended above the bar and wood paneling framing an actual 8-by-3-foot fish tank.
That said, you won’t spot any yellow tangs in there just yet. “The tank is coral-driven,” Anonymous Owner Man explains. “We will be adding fish and other elements, but it will take time … It will happen over various cycles.”
They gutted the plush black booths that once lined the walls to make room for barstools and high-top tables and installed a half-dozen TVs to livestream sporting events and pop cultural mainstays like the Oscars.
You’ll be sipping on libations crafted by Laura Buckingham, whose menu is in its final stages of development. It promises the exclusive use of freshly squeezed juices like lychee, pineapple, and lime, plus other, less common ingredients like fresh tamarind, blood orange liqueur, and chocolate bitters.
All produce will be local and organic when possible, with the aim of being craft and seasonal yet unpretentious. “When it comes to bars, you have dive bars, and then you have cocktail lounges with elaborate menus,” our mysterious source explains. “We want to come in at the midway point. We are [also] using a lot of local brands.” That includes sellers like JuneShine and Octavio Tequila.
The owners forecast big plans for Fishtank’s future—they want to build out a patio, host trivia and karaoke nights, and bring in a DJ to spin pop and EDM on Fridays and Saturdays. But for now, they’re hopeful you will join them for their series of soft openings happening later this month.
Fishtank is now open at 1808 W Washington St.
The Marine Room is hosting a “Conscious Catch” fundraiser on Tuesday, June 13th, from 6 to 9 pm to raise awareness of sustainable seafood. Chefs Travis Swikard (Callie), Carlos Anthony (Herb & Wood), William Eick (Matsu), and Top Chef Masters alum Rick Moonen will join the Marine Room’s executive chef Mike Minor and chef de cuisine Alex Pailles to showcase a menu of locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Tickets are $175 per person, and event proceeds will go to the La Jolla–based Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans.
Molly’s has opened in Mission Beach. Molly’s shares a courtyard with Moe’s (both are owned by OMG Hospitality) in the building that previously housed Saska’s. Guests can retire to Molly’s Tulum-themed rooftop to perch on wicker chairs beneath tasseled umbrellas. For food, they’re offering a breakfast and lunch menu with Belgian waffles, a variety of toasts, almond croissants, berry cream buns, and an assortment of other house-made pastries.
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