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First Look: Johnston’s


When Small Bar shuttered on Park Boulevard, hospitality firm ELE Collective (which also operates Park & Rec down the street) took over the space. The vision: a neighborhood restaurant-bar. They’d call it The Regular.

Then demolition started. And historical gems emerged, pieced together a past that locals had long forgotten. Like a tattered sign from a 1920s five-and-dime, Johnston’s Variety Dept. Store.

That mom-and-pop shop’s history shines through at the new Johnston’s. Its doors open tonight with a restored sign above them. (The handiwork of local artist Christopher Konecki. The bar shakes up Bloody Marys named after the original Johnston’s Variety Dept. Store owners, Alex and Mary Johnston. The menu, crafted by executive chef Peter Ziegler, features standouts like buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches and yakitori skewers. Brunch is in the works, as is outdoor drinking and dining in the garden.

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1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA