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Vintage San Diego: Fifty and Fab

Bertrand at Mister A’s, circa 1980s


In Bankers Hill, the iconic Bertrand at Mister A’s is celebrating 50 years. John Alessio, aka Mister A, opened the penthouse restaurant on June 1, 1965. At the time, the average dinner entrée price was $7. Some of those classic dishes are returning to the menu this month, with retro offerings that include the Mint Julep, Steak Diane, and Baked Alaska.

Walter Broderick and Associates, a La Mesa interior design firm, conceived the establishment’s original Mediterranean villa-style interior with walnut paneling and deep red upholstery.

Restaurateur Bertrand Hug, of Rancho Santa Fe’s Mille Fleurs, purchased and renovated the restaurant in 2000 after Alessio’s passing. A reproduction of the Mona Lisa, originally gifted to Alessio by his wife, hangs in the entryway. It is now inscribed with a message from Alessio himself, “Dear Bertrand, Take care of Mister A’s.”

In June, Mister A’s will serve a three-course tasting menu from the original 1965 menu for $65. And on the restaurant’s original opening date (June 1), Mister A’s will host a gala dinner, benefitting the Old Globe Theatre, in conjunction with another iconic anniversary—Balboa Park’s centennial.

By the Numbers

July 8, 1965

Governor Pat Brown and John Alessio appear on the front page of the Evening Tribune for the $6 million Fifth Avenue Financial Center ribbon-cutting


Estimated cost of decorating the restaurant complex in 1964


Seats in the original restaurant’s men’s-only dining room


Feet above sea level, which puts diners at eye level with incoming planes


The phone number, which hasn’t changed since the restaurant opened in 1965


Levels of servers, and each level wears a different uniform

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