Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
First came Neighborhood and El Dorado—forward-thinking, alcohol-fueled, fledgling additions to a downtown scene thirsty for change and in need of an impetus for it. Back then, the owners of those establishments, Arsalun Tafazoli and Nathan Stanton, were independent. It was when their respective businesses took off and they recognized their commonalities that they teamed up to open three other well-received contemporary ventures—Noble Experiment, Craft & Commerce, and Underbelly.
What’s next? Nobody knows for sure. Originally, the duo planned to take over an old downtown church and convert it into an ultra-cool watering hole complete with a design that incorporated the building's religious elements. That plan was nixed by the kibosh put on California redevelopment agencies. But now they have a new plan, albeit it one they're tight-lipped. All that’s for sure at this point is that the next Consortium Holdings (the official name of Tafazoli and Stanton’s company) venue is en route, and will land in Normal Heights near the intersection of 30th Street and Adams Avenue. An exact street address is not available, but expect it to occupy a spot across the street from Jayne’s Gastropub.
The location is not at all surprising. With the hipster appeal of their previous venues and consistent commitment to upping San Diego’s drinking and dining options—something a high percentage of Normal Heights residents are interested in and restaurant and bar owners in nearby neighborhoods like North Park work hard to do—almost anything CH installs should fit into the neighborhood like a bottle of house Julian apple-infused vodka into El Dorado’s bar well, or a local saison flavored with Escondido-grown lemon thyme (this actually exists in the collaborative Saison du BUFF from Stone Brewing Co.) into Neighborhood’s tap line-up.
Whatever goes in, the menu will be developed by Jason McLeod, who was recently hired as Consortium Holdings’ executive chef. A veteran of kitchens here and abroad, he is mostly known locally as the chef who opened The Grand Del Mar back in 2007 before moving to Chicago, where he earned a pair of Michelin stars after opening Ria Restaurant at the Elysian Hotel. Before taking on his new position, McLeod had been working in a mentor role at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel and exploring the possibility of establishing his own restaurant. Looks like that will have to wait as he’s sure to have his hands full overseeing multiple busy kitchens and assisting with the birth of another.