Brooklyn Girl Eatery, a popular neighborhood restaurant that opened seven years ago in Mission Hills, has closed suddenly, coming on the heels of a number of other high-profile eateries that have suffered a similar fate.
Run by veteran restaurateurs Mike and Victoria McGeath, whose dining pedigree dates to the late 1980s when they opened Fio’s in the Gaslamp Quarter, Brooklyn Girl closed for business Sunday evening. In a message posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, the McGeaths announced the coming closure a day earlier, but offered no reason for the decision.
The final day, they said, comes with “sadness yet an abundance of gratitude to all our guests that have graced our doors, to the friends we have made along the way, to our regulars that have supported us throughout the years and to our amazing crew that has put their heart and soul into this restaurant.”
Reached Sunday, McGeath declined to answer any questions about the closing, saying he had no comment.
Also closing abruptly last month was Pisco Rotisserie & Cevicheria, a well-regarded Peruvian restaurant in Liberty Station that longtime restaurateur Sami Ladeki opened in mid-2017 with his partner, Emmanuel Piqueras, a renowned Peruvian chef. No advanced notice of the closing was given. At the time it opened, Pisco earned raves for its food — a somewhat surprising transition for a restaurateur who built his reputation on wood-fired pizza. Pisco took the place of Sammy’s Woodfired pizza location in Liberty Station.
Other recently shuttered eateries are Urban Solace in North Park and its sister restaurant in Encinitas, as well as https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-patio-101-20180621-story.html — also in Encinitas and part of restaurateur Gina Champion-Cain’s growing hospitality empire. The 7,000-square-foot venue, which featured two indoor dining rooms and two bars, had been open less than a year.
Ladeski said that in addition to grappling with mounting labor and food costs, his Pisco also had the challenge of enticing diners with not so adventurous palates.
“It took me two years to come up with this Peruvian restaurant, and I loved it. And then I opened one in Carlsbad,” said Ladeki, whose restaurant group operates 15 eateries, including five in Nevada. “I thought everything was going great but then the revenue started dwindling. American people didn’t understand the Peruvian thing. People would walk in and then they’d walk away. We don’t know Peruvian, they’d say.”
With monthly rent running $15,000 and losses as high as $25,000 to $30,000 a month, Ladeki said he turned to focus groups for counsel. As much as they said they loved Pisco’s food, they acknowledged it wasn’t a cuisine they were going to eat more than once a week, unlike pizza. Ultimately, he closed Pisco about a week ago and earlier this year https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/dining-and-drinking/sd-et-dining-toast-20190131-story.html, which Ladeki says is doing remarkably well.
For now, Ladeki says he is trying to sell his Liberty Station business, with no plans to reinvent it yet again. Unlike smaller restaurateurs, Ladeki says he is fortunate to have the buying power that comes with having multiple venues, which helps temper the blow of rising expenses.
Champion-Cain, whose restaurant portfolio is 25 eateries and counting, agrees that chains and independents with multiple brands can use “economies of scale” to their advantage in a higher cost environment.
“I just think right now, it’s hard to run restaurants in California. the costs are so outrageous,” Champion-Cain said. “It’s about trying to run your restaurants as efficiently as you can and when you have one store, it’s very hard. With a chain, which we’re now considered, you just have more power for keeping costs down.”
As for the closing of her Encinitas restaurant, she characterized it as something of a failed experiment. She had been aiming to make it an amalgam of a beachy surf joint and her new casual rock-inspired Himmelberg’s concept, which just opened in East Village.
“It taught me that I need to focus on a different format. It just didn’t work there,” she said. “Someone will buy it from me. What I wanted to do was make a rock ‘n’ roll bar, which we just opened in East Village and in Encinitas we couldn’t do live music. When you come up with new brands, you have to test it out in the market. In Encinitas, it was supposed to be more of a surf joint, but it was not the right thing for the market, so I want to focus on what I know best.”
As her Patio Group expands, Champion-Cain said her plan is to do more partnerships with corporate entities like hotels, colleges and office buildings where her Patio restaurants become an amenity of a larger location. Her company will operate the venues but is not on the hook for financing the build-out cost. With the company’s signature Patio Marketplaces already in a few San Diego and Orange County office buildings, Champion-Cain said she would eventually like to develop as many as 200 of the casual eateries over the next five years.
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