By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Over in the Westfield Mission Valley shopping center, the long-established Gordon Biersch is closing July 15. It will be replaced in late fall by Puesto, a top-quality taco chain with several regional locations locally owned and operated by two Mexican-American families. The owners will also take over the existing brewing system and produce their own beers. 5010 Mission Center Road, gordonbiersch.com and eatpuesto.com.
The long-shuttered Al Reef Mediterranean Restaurant, at the corner of University Avenue and Utah Street, has sprung back to life as Two Blu Ducks, a breakfast-lunch spot that operates from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., daily. Owned by restaurateur Djani Ivanov of The Hopping Pig in the Gaslamp Quarter, the commodious 3,500-square-foot restaurant is still in its soft opening with portions of the menu still in development, we’re told. 2835 University Ave.
Signage reading “BBW” is now up on the former Starbuck’s that operated near The Observatory North Park. To the befuddlement of some, the acronym does not stand for “big beautiful women,” but rather for Belgian Beer and Waffles.
Due to open by late July, the eatery is being launched by Frenchman Guillaume Ryon, whose other ventures include a few San Diego locations of Le Parfait Paris. The cafe will feature a variety of beers, plus beer-battered waffles, assorted savory dishes, ice cream and other confections from his Le Parfait Paris repertoire. 2899 University Ave.
An all-vegan menu featuring more than 200 food and beverage items awaits at The Modern Vegan in North Park, which opened June 8 in a new mixed-use complex on 30th Street.
The restaurant marks the second location by owners Todd and Gia Schultz, who opened the original Modern Vegan last year in Las Vegas. The dual-residency couple say the menus are the same at both locations, a compendium of “all-American comfort favorites” that include loaded nachos, Louisiana fried “chicken” and “lobster” rolls.
There are also shakes, smoothies and organic juices and sodas. A full liquor license is in the pipeline. 4332 30th St., 619-310-5712,
Former sous chef for Urban Plates in Los Angeles, Ernesto Moreno, will serve as executive chef at the all-organic Pachamana, due to open in Normal Heights in July by former professional tennis player and model, Victoria Vannucci of Argentina.
In keeping with the restaurant’s South American slant, the chef will replicate dishes indigenous to Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile, as well as Mexico and Cuba.
Moreno was also a kitchen manager at the LA location of Cafe Gratitude, the plant-based restaurant with a local branch in Little Italy. A native of San Diego County, his menu will feature only a small amount of animal proteins sourced from humanely raised livestock. 3737 Adams Ave., 619-363-2358,
A triple-themed vegan eatery is moving into the structure where Anthem restaurant previously operated before it recently took over the kitchen at nearby Toronado.
The ambitious project, called The Village, will offer Mexican food, sushi and menu items from the La Mesa-based Natural Delights Juice Bar, which also serves vegan wraps.
“We’ll have three different menus all under the same roof,” said Natural Delights manager, Esmeralda Gutierrez, whose mother, Sonia Gutierrez, and aunt, Alondra Ruiz, own the operation.
Due to open by early August, the interior design, she added, may have two or three different types of seating areas. 2611 El Cajon Blvd.
Mission Valley is abuzz with culinary news.
On June 19, Breakfast Republic opened in Park Valley Center, replacing Panda Express. This marks the San Diego-based restaurant chain’s ninth location. 1570 Camino de la Reina, 619-310-6214, breakfastrepublic.com.
A stone’s throw away, in the same plaza, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill recently debuted brunch service for the first time in the company’s 30-year history. It is the only location out of 12 that is offering the menu, available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. And with a recently obtained full-liquor license, a crafty cocktail program has been introduced. 1620 Camino de la Reina, 619-298-8222, sammyspizza.com.