In December it was announced that Nati’s Mexican Restaurant in Ocean Beach was sold and would close for renovations and remodeling.
On December 13th, Nati’s co-owner Dennis Kerr issued a press release, saying, "It is our understanding that the business will closed for about a month for some much-needed renovation and updating. Thereafter the refreshed Nati’s will reopen with the original staff and serve the consistent, Sinaloan Style Mexican food that has made it a local’s favorite for the past nearly 60 years.”
“Would love to know who bought it, as my business is in one of the buildings,” said Amber Hazewski of SAANS Lena Studio, one of the three businesses at 5032 Niagara Avenue included in the Nati’s property sale.
“So far Nati’s hasn't told us anything,” said Hazewski. “There are three businesses in the building and we're all just hanging out waiting to find out what's happening to us.” The Current Collective and the Nest Coffee & Tea are the other two businesses on a month-to-month lease.
On January 18th, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control posted a Public Notice of Application on a Nati’s restaurant window, indicating “Change in Stock Ownership.”
The ABC licensing consultant listed on the notice, Heidi Roji from G.R. Bill Consulting, said she had no comment, “as nothing has been finalized yet." She did say the application process can take from 30 to 90 days, but “that’s just a guideline.”
A search of San Diego public records indicates that the “Notice of Intended Transfer of Alcoholic Beverage License” was filed by Nati’s owners Kerr and Marilyn Thomas to the “grantee” of the license: SQFT Investments, LLC.
Public records indicate Michael Donovan has been the principal of SQFT Investments, LLC, since September 13, 2016; Donovan is also listed as the owner of SDPB Holdings, LLC, which shares the same address on Cass Street in Pacific Beach as SQFT Investments, LLC.
SDPB and Donovan were the subject of a Reader cover story last summer detailing the developer’s conflicts with neighbors and the city as he executed a project in Mission Hills.
Besides news that Nati’s ownership is being granted to a developer who frustrated Mission Hills residents, the restaurant’s days as a Mexican comfort-food haven are numbered. Following a tip from a reliable source, I confirmed that Pop Pie Co. will occupy the restaurant space, pending the signing of a lease.
The eatery’s first location in University Heights opened on October 8th, 2016, serving sweet and savory pies (including breakfast pies). Owners Gan Suebsarakham and Steven Torres said they were “very excited” to come to O.B. but had no comment.
Offering some assurance that they'll blend in with the new locale, the restaurateurs state on their website that "being good neighbors for our San Diego community" is what they're about (besides their "signature all-butter crust").