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Terra American Bistro Switches To Takeout

Plus, Marisi gets a wine nod, a craft beer conference, and more food and drink news
Exterior sign of San Diego restaurant Terra American Bistro in La Mesa which is switching to a catering service
Courtesy of Google Maps

Terra American Bistro isn’t closing because business is bad. They’re closing because business is so good.

“We’ve done catering and a restaurant out of the same kitchen for 25 years,” explains Jeff Rossman, chef and cofounder of Terra. “Finally, catering just surpassed the capacity of the building, so instead of going to buy another building, we decided since we own ours currently, we would just renovate it and make it work.”

Terra’s dining room at 7091 El Cajon Blvd. closed in June, but Rossman promised patrons it would return in a new form—a takeout-only model alongside the catering business (which is still booming). During Covid, Terra launched daily takeout to keep the business afloat, a move Rossman says they were able to finesse and now implement permanently. This will allow the Terra catering team to maximize their food preparation while minimizing their food and labor costs.

Interior of San Diego restaurant and catering service Terra American Bistro in La Mesa
Courtesy of Terra American Bistro

“If we’re catering and doing food anyway, we might as well offer it to our customers,” he says. “Since we’re getting margins on the food for catering packages, we can offer it at a lower price.” He points to an a la carte salmon entree, currently priced at $18. “It would normally be $26 or $27,” he explains. “We don’t have to pay for dishwashing. I don’t have to have serving staff. It’s just cooked and packaged to reheat at home.”

Currently, Terra is offering two days of takeout service: a “Weekend” package (order by Wednesday, pick up on Friday) and a “Hump Day” package (order by Monday, pick up on Wednesday). Both are available for two people ($50) or four people ($100). 

“100 bucks to feed four people a three-course meal, including dessert?” Rossman laughs. “It’s ridiculously priced.” 

A steak dish from San Diego restaurant and catering service Terra American Bistro in La Mesa
Courtesy of Tripadvisor

A la carte items, like the salmon, will also be available to add to the packages, but the menu is likely to change as the team evaluates what works and what dishes prove to be successful. To really push their efficiency, he says they may even host a ghost kitchen concept in about a month, or eventually host cooking classes at the former bar. “As far as evolving, it might evolve into ‘Oh my God, we’re selling a ton of things to go—I need to hire more people!” he jokes. 

Construction to renovate the space will officially start the first week of August, but Rossman says it should only take about a week or so. He’s lining up plenty of other plans in the meantime—hosting a multi-course seafood dinner with Tommy “The Fishmonger” Gomes on Friday, July 12; a jazz brunch on Saturday, July 27; and a winemaker dinner with Trevi Hills Winery on Friday, August 2. But he hopes people give the takeout model a chance, and promises to bring back a few old favorites, like lobster mac and cheese.

“It’s a good model,” he promises—the same great food at a much lower cost. Sounds like a recipe for success to me. 

New San Diego Mexican restaurant Blanco Cocina + Cantina opening on Orange Avenue in Coronado in 2024
Rendering Courtersy of Blanco Cocina + Cantina

San Diego Restaurant News & Food Events

Blanco Cocina + Cantina Opens Wednesday, July 17

Known for their chimichangas and “cheese crisps” (basically, Mexican pizzas), Blanco Cocina + Cantina is ready to open their second San Diego location at 1301 Orange Avenue on Coronado next week. The Sonoran-style Mexican eatery also has a spot in Fashion Valley, but the Coronado location will sprawl over 5,600 square feet of indoor/outdoor seating and will offer the same menu of tacos, fajitas, and—of course—plenty of margaritas. In a hurry or want to bring your tacos to the beach? It’ll also have a walk-up window for to-go service.

Wine sommelier at San Diego restaurant Marisi in La Jolla which recently won Wine Spectator’s 2024 Award of Excellence
Photo Credit: Robe Ziegler

Beth’s Bites

  • Asian snack superstore Juewei is coming to Convoy! Will I stock up on all the savory duck snacks? My Magic 8 ball says “It is decidedly so.” Guess that’s settled. 
  • Marisi, the darling of La Jolla dining, earned Wine Spectator’s 2024 Award of Excellence for prioritizing wine selection, service, and knowledge as part of regular operations. San Diego may be a beer town, but our wine cred is rising by the day. 
  • Speaking of beer, the San Diego Brewers Guild’s annual Craft Beer Conference is coming to MiraCosta College on August 13. You don’t have to be a Guild member to attend—just a person interested in expanding their beer education on subjects like technical brewing, business tactics, and more. (Yes, there will be samples.)

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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