Inside Bertrand at Mister A's
Historical facts and industry secrets from one of San Diego’s most iconic restaurants
By Nate Martins | Illustration by Kristina Micotti
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There used to be umbrellas on the patio, but on a windy day, they ended up sprawled along Fifth Avenue.
The favorite spot of original owner, John Alessio, was table 42. When Bertrand Hug took over in 2000, he redesigned the interior, and moved and renamed tables. By coincidence, table 42 remained.
A replica Mona Lisa sits in the entryway. Alessio and his wife hired a painter to match the famous smirking woman and now, the frame is inscribed with a message for Hug from Mr. A himself: “Dear Bertrand, take care of Mister A’s.”
Quick meal? No chance. Average service time is about two hours. “We only kick people out at 1 a.m.,” says manager Steven Fredrick. “Even then, we blame it on the valet. ‘If you want your car, you better get out of here!’”
The telephone number has been the same since 1965: 619-239-1377
Most marriage proposals occur in the Downtown Room (one or two a weekend). “I’ve only seen one person say ‘no’ to a proposal,” says Jerry Capozzelli, the maitre d’ of
The building is built on rollers for earthquake safety.
Blinds used to be lowered halfway down on the windows. But the top half of the glass remained cool from shade while the bottom got extremely hot—and caused the glass to crack. Replacing a window costs $25,000 and involves blocking off the street and hiring a crane. It took three times for management to learn what was causing the glass to break.
To rent a room for an event, there’s no rental fee, but you must spend a minimum amount at dinner. The Downtown Room’s minimum is $4,000.
Capozzelli has worked here since 1984, and was the only staff member to make the cut when Bertrand bought the restaurant.
On New Year’s Eve, they serve 450 guests. That’s about 100 bottles of Champagne.
Pilots of incoming planes will call the restaurant to let them know if one of the sign’s neon letters is out.
At 350 feet above sea level, the patio puts you at eye level with incoming planes.
Former President Bill Clinton dined here during his term. Tables had to be moved, blinds lowered, and plants placed in front of the windows to obscure the view of potential snipers.
Capozzelli is what they call a captain. His uniform consists of a navy suit jacket, khaki pants, periwinkle dress shirt, and a blue tie. Hug lets only Jerry wear a patterned blue tie. All other captains must wear a solid blue tie but, Capozzelli says, “He trusts my style.” Each level of server (there are four levels) has a different uniform.
As of April, for the first time ever, Bertrand at Mister A’s serves weekend brunch.