By Frank Sabatini Jr. | GSD Reporter
In an update regarding the upcoming Harvey Milk’s American Diner, which will replace the iconic City Delicatessen & Bakery, co-partner Mike “Big Mike” Phillips said the transition will occur “as soon as possible, hopefully early summer.” Phillips has joined forces with restaurateur Tom Brown and media-marketing consultant Frank Lechner to open what is considered the first-of-its-kind eatery honoring the civil rights achievements of the LGBT activist. The venture has received licensing support from The Harvey Milk Foundation and human rights activist Stuart Milk, who is the nephew of the late Harvey Milk.
Brown, who has worked extensively in the restaurant business, will initially head up the menus. The offerings will focus on comfort cuisine while catering also to vegetarians and those on gluten-free diets. In addition, the diner will expand on City Deli’s bakery selection, retaining some of their original recipes.
“We’re stepping into a restaurant that has given so much to our community for the past 30 years,” Phillips said. “We literally have some big shoes to fill.”
Remodeling will occur in phases, Phillips said, assuring that the colorful relief work on the building’s exterior will remain intact. “That was put up there many years ago when it was a market. It’s a historical part of that corner in Hillcrest.”
Both Phillips and Lechner will leave their respective jobs at Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Café and LGBT Weekly. “Once escrow is complete, we’ll be literally moving into our dream,” he said. Until then, the restaurant will operate as City Deli until the transition is complete. 525 University Ave., 619-295-2747.
The Ruby Room has closed, but it may likely reappear under the same name at a different Hillcrest location. Co-owner Sean Cute and his wife Brittni are currently shopping for other properties with the hopes of further expanding Ruby Room’s art-music concept, and perhaps team up with a brewer. “We’re not in a crazy rush to find a new place, but when we see something that looks right, we’ll go for it,” Cute said.
In the meantime, the bar’s remaining partner, Paul Smith, is re-branding the original property as The Merrow, named after a Scottish mermaid. Upgrades to the sound system and remodeling of the floors, restrooms and bar are currently underway, as Smith plans to reopen on time for a performance by three local bands on July 5, and a lesbian art show scheduled the following day.
“There’ll be two faces to The Merrow,” Smith said. “I want to re-establish it as a bar for daytime and early-evening crowds, but continue with selective shows and performances later at night.” 1271 University Ave., 619-299-7372.
Rumors are cooking about a glitzy 50s-style restaurant and lounge moving into the space left vacant by The Range after it moved across the street last year. The venture is reportedly due to open this summer as The Commonwealth. 1263 University Ave.
A confluence of specialty dishes from Malaysia, Korea and Thailand comprise the menu at The Snooty Asian, a new Hillcrest kitchen that recently replaced Kip’s Café. The Pan-Asian restaurant originally launched in May but then shut down temporarily for remodeling until kicking back into gear last week. Murals are still going up and a new cocktail lounge is being built without interrupting regular dinner service. The owners, who also run Bali Thai Café in Mission Valley, are planning a grand opening with various meal specials sometime in July. 3925 Fourth Ave., 619-255-6330.
A traditional Louisiana-style crawfish boil with live zydeco music by The Swamp Critters marks the summer kick-off party at True North Tavern in North Park, beginning at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 30. Abita beer and hurricanes are among the featured libations. For the latter, guests get to keep the glass. The boil includes corn on the cob, red potatoes and a choice of crawfish or shrimp, delivered right to the tables on newspaper. The cost for the meal is $15. 3815 30th St., 619-291-3815.
The folks at Alchemy in South Park will be roasting a whole pig for its annual BBQ party, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, July 4. Brisket with all the fixings is also in the offing, along with special releases by Societe Brewing Company of Kearny Mesa. The event features bicycle decorating and apple pie eating contests. Barbecue plates are $12. 1503 30th St., 619-255-0616.
The 60,000-square-foot Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station is now fully open to the grand tune of an enormous garden area, a bocce ball court and a stately restaurant that once served as a U.S. Navy mess hall. Beer aficionados will find 40 beers on tap that change daily, plus 100 different labels in bottles that include Stone’s Vertical Epic aged in white wine barrels and Mikkeller/To Ol, a coveted Betelgeuze-style beer from Denmark. The restaurant, open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, features contemporary dishes incorporating locally grown organics from Stone Farms. 2816 Historic Decatur Road, #116, 619-269-2100.