Edit ModuleShow Tags

THE BIG IDEA: Urge Craft Alley

The north county empire-builders strike with 24,000 square-foot resto/brewery/bowl


WE WILL RULE THIS GOURMET DESERT: As a native from inland North County, I’ve long moaned about the lack of decent Franco-American-bistro-esque choices. I really should’ve shut my trap since I didn’t open one of my own. But thankfully my inaction has been counterbalanced by the group behind The Barrel Room. They followed that Rancho Bernardo wine bar with Urge Gastropub right next door, then Brothers’ Provisions a mile down the road, and now they’re striking again. “When we first opened the Barrel Room in 2007,” says co-owner and sommelier Grant Tondro, “every real estate agent in town told us, ‘You can’t open in Rancho Bernardo! There’s nothing there!' And we thought, ‘Ding, ding, ding.’” Their new space in Vista will be called Urge: Craft Alley isn’t ambitious at all—just a 24,000 square-foot city of sweet, sweet vice (formerly home to Bally’s Total Fitness). The plan includes: a 10,000 square-foot restaurant with over 400 seats, a 2,000 square-foot bottle shop (wine and beer to go), a 5,000 square-foot brewery and eight to 10 bowling lanes. “It’s basically my Disneyland,” says Tondro.  “We’ll have 200-300 whiskeys, with the intention of getting it up to 400 or 500. We’ll start with 51 taps of craft beer with the option of expanding to 100 taps if there’s demand for it. Leigh Lacap and Christian Siglin from Sycamore Den will be designing the cocktail menu.”  Why bowling? “It’s a game you can play with one hand, it doesn’t take a lot of skill, and it’s kind of cool,” says Tondro. Are there a ton of investors behind it? “No, it’s just me and my two business partners,” he says.  “I took out the biggest loan of my life. I still drive a Kia. If this doesn’t work out I’m moving back with mom and dad.” Are you going to open 30 more restaurants within six square miles within the next year? “We’ve taken a look at sites in Coachella and L.A., but we’re going to make sure we do this right first.” Urge: Craft Alley will be located at 1928 Hacienda Dr. and open February or March of next year.

I REEK OF SAN MARZANOS: Working on SD Mag’s pizza-issue in November. The roof of my mouth is ripped and raw like breadknife sushi. I sweat oregano. At one reportedly decent place in north county, the most notable thing was a man who’d been drunk since 1997 offering advice on caring for German Shepherds. At another I found a decent pizza with a horsefly problem. As the pie-man explained: “They come to Del Mar when the horses arrive for racing season. The track closed yesterday. That means no more manure. The flies are homeless. So they’ll bother us for about a week.” Thanks for the frank explanation. Without spoiling the surprise, I had one pie today that reminded me a very, very good chef is doing pizza in Norht County. Blue Ribbon Pizzeria’s classic—fennel sausage, moz, crimini mushrooms—is one hell of a pie, leopard-spotted for your splendor. For those center-city sectarians who never venture north of La Jolla, chef-owner Wade Hageman just opened up Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen in Hillcrest.

SORIANO MILKS IT: Great local designer Michael Soriano (The Pearl, Vin de Syrah, Queenstown Public) has signed on to design the first retail location for The Cravory, San Diego's custom-cookie stalwarts. The 1,000 square-foot space will have milk on tap and is aiming for an October open. 3960 W. Point Loma Blvd. (Midway Towne Center).  

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Yes We Canned

Catalina Offshore gets into the growing local, sustainable canned tuna game

The Best Food & Drink Events in August and September

Tiki Cocktail Competition at Level Four, The Best of San Diego Party, Green Flash's Treasure Chest Beer + Food Fest, and Farm to Fork

Best Things I Ate This Month: August 2017

Ahi Tostadas at Bar Bodega, Halibut with Farro at Provisional, and Breakfast Pot Pie at Snooze
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to the Blog

Edit ModuleShow Tags

SD Food News

The hottest thing in San Diego food right now just might be Tijuana.

About This Blog

Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

Recent Posts

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags


9 Reasons You Need a Better Barber

Get the look and service you deserve at this East Village salon

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags