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Addison Alums Take Over Pearl Hotel Restaurant

The group will be moving into the former Charles + Dinorah space to debut their new venture: Ponyboy
Exterior of San Diego's retro The Pearl Hotel located in Point Loma and home to a new restaurant concept called Ponyboy opening this year
Photo Credit: Josh Cho Photography

The 1983 film The Outsiders, based on S.E. Hinton’s 1967 coming-of-age novel, flaunted an all-star cast, including Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, and a few other heartthrobs. (Have you ever heard of the Karate Kid? Big swoon.) The movie featured a serious collection of chiseled jawlines, but it was also the star power and artistry that helped create a cult classic—still beloved decades after its release. 

It’s precisely that same level of carefully honed skills cultivated at Addison, San Diego’s only three Michelin-starred restaurant, and relationships built through the unique back-of-house culture that led to the creation of Service Animals, San Diego’s newest hospitality group and the force behind Ponyboy. 

Food from new San Diego restaurant Ponyboy founded by chefs from Addison opening at Point Loma's Pearl Hotel
Photo Credit: Arlene Ibarra

Ian Ward and Danny Romero, the partners behind Service Animals, are two Addison alums with plenty of experience launching pop-up projects—Ward’s Irish Goodbye, Danny’s Tortoise and Two Ducks. Earlier this year, they decided it was high time to join forces to create their group, which will focus on developing projects that provide “excellence with a touch of whimsy” to San Diego, a few of which are in the works already, says Ward.

He explains that Service Animals won’t be just another group of restaurateurs with wacky ideas or a signature aesthetic. Instead, their goal will be to take their collective experience in high-end dining and create one-of-a-kind experiential destinations. 

“We all came from Addison, which is basically finishing school for hospitality,” says Ward. “It’s bringing that sense of quality that we’ve learned through Addison to the masses.”

Interior of the previous restaurant Charles + Dinorah at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma, San Diego
Courtesy of OpenTable
Interior of the Charles + Dinorah space

Ponyboy is the first official Service Animal project to replace the former Charles + Dinorah space inside The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma this summer. After Casetta Group redesigned the hotel in 2020, they actively sought a hospitality group to reimagine the dining offerings inside the space. When they connected earlier this year, Ward said it was the perfect time and place for the vision they had in mind.

“We were like, yeah, we know exactly what we want in there and pitched them Ponyboy,” he says.

Chefs Danny and Dante Romero who are behind the new Pearl Hotel restaurant called Ponyboy opening in Point Loma soon
Courtesy of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
Brothers Danny (left) and Dante (right) Romero

Ward says the idea behind Ponyboy, which was initially going to be called Heyday, is inspired by 1950s and 1960s Palm Springs and iconic restaurants of that era, like the Brown Derby, La Caravelle, and culinary tastemakers such as M. F. K. Fisher, James Beard, and Julia Child. Ponyboy executive chef Josh Reynolds (Wormwood, Stone Brewing World Bistro, MRKT Space) has plenty to play with as far as inspiration (with some input from Dante Romero), including Irish Goodbye’s signature fondues to vintage Gourmet magazine recipes for tuna casserole, but using locally caught fish.

The menu will feature very era-specific classics, such as ambrosia salad, seasonal aspics, chicken a la king, and an opah wellington with a classic French sorrel sauce made with local line-caught opa. “Cherries Jubilee, Rocky Road ice cream, root beer floats… we’re going familiar, but fun and weird,” Ward laughs. “That’s the dance you want to do—how much do you want to stick to old recipes and how much can you play with them before they start to be their own thing?”

Exterior of the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma, San Diego featuring a pool with projector films
Courtesy of

For cocktails, he says they’ll follow in the same vein, offering classics like Rob Roys and sloe gin fizz, as well as tinkered-with re-imaginations, like Frozen Grasshoppers made with coconut. Casetta Group is currently redoing the interior, which Ward says will allow them to utilize the pool more for events, movie nights, and special menus. 

“If we’re showing Planet of the Apes, we’ll do banana splits, or if we’re showing Dr. No, it’ll be discounted Vespers,” he says. Sci-Fi Sundays could mean fish sticks but with local line-caught rockfish. Western Wednesdays may bring fried chicken. Anything of that era is up for grabs, he says, as long as they’re connecting with the Point Loma community and hotel guests. 

“All of it just felt right—for the neighborhood, for ourselves,” says Ward, adding that while much of the team hails from Chef Bradley’s kitchen at Addison, they parted on positive terms. “On my last shift at Addison, the chef was talking about how proud he was to have his first two people leave there and open their own place together,” he says. “It was a really great moment.”

Ponyboy will open at The Pearl Hotel this summer with bar and dinner service Wednesday – Sunday from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. with a Golden Hour from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Courtesy of Pinterest

San Diego Restaurant News & Food Events

The Henry Opening A New Location in Carlsbad

The Henry opened its first California location in West Hollywood in 2018, followed by Coronado in 2019. Now, the “the greatest neighborhood restaurant,” (quite a claim) has its sights set on Carlsbad. Sam Fox, founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, says the Carlsbad location will feature a more beachy interior, plus a large outdoor patio and indoor/outdoor bar. “This location is just what we had been waiting for,” he says. “We are thrilled to open in this prime location.” The Henry Carlsbad is slated to open next summer at The Forum.

¡SALUD! Closes in Barrio Logan

Say what you will about Salud’s tacos or service, because all restaurants have good and bad days. But it’s always sad to hear about a local business closing, especially without warning, and especially when they cite lease issues as the catalyst. Let us not forget that Salud was an integral part of Barrio Logan, helping to shine a light on the neighborhood’s incredible culture and building it into the destination food hub it is today. I, for one, am sad to see them go. 

A table full of sadwiches, salads, and other food from food-chain Mendocino Farms which is opening a new location in Scripps Ranch
Courtesy of Uber Eats

Beth’s Bites

  • It’s true—Carlsbad icon Tip Top Meats is closing on September 30. The company does hint at a different direction, noting that its operations are coming to a pause but perhaps not an end. As a meat lover and small business supporter, I wish them the best of luck.
  • Why should Westfield UTC be the only mall with legit food options? A new ABC license application indicates that Qin West Noodle is moving into Fashion Valley mall, bringing delicious noodles, soups, and buns to 7007 Friars Road. (Yes, I know they have an existing spot in UTC. Give me this win!)
  • I honestly did not expect to love Mendocino Farms as much as I do. It’s just sandwiches, right? But dear God, what sandwiches! (They aren’t paying me to promote them. I just really, really love their sandwiches—especially the Chimichurri Steak & Bacon, drooooooool.) Anyway, they’re opening a new location at 10715 Scripps Poway Parkway in Scripps Ranch. The more, the merrier, with a pineapple tajin lemonade on the side.

Have breaking news, exciting scoops, or great stories about new San Diego restaurants or the city’s food scene? Send your pitches to [email protected].

By Beth Demmon

Beth Demmon is an award-winning writer and podcaster whose work regularly appears in national outlets and San Diego Magazine. Her first book, The Beer Lover's Guide to Cider, is now available. Find out more on

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