Having opened doors in one of San Diego’s most booming neighborhoods, Waypoint Public, is North Park’s newest casual bistro and bar devoted to celebrating California culture, cuisine and great beer. Founded by a team of hospitality industry veterans - John Pani, Brian Jensen, and former Top Chef Amanda Baumgarten, this dynamic trio, each with their own distinct area of expertise, has taken over the former Linkery space on the corner of 30th Street and North Park Way.
John Pani, a San Diego native and founder of the hospitality investment and management firm ELE Collective, has for the past 12 years established himself as a key player in a number of local hospitality projects, including the Omni San Diego, Hotel Solamar/ Jsix Restaurant & Lounge, the Marriot Del Mar/ Arterra Restaurant, and Little Italy’s Hotel Vyvant. As a Kensington local with a wife and family of three, John, along with his partners Brian and Amanda, quickly recognized an opportunity to bring North Park residents their own interpretation of what an approachable, neighborhood eatery should be.
“Growing up in Ocean Beach, I’ve been coming up to North Park, pretty much since I could drive, to hang out at local institutions like Claire de Lune, Caffé Calabria and Off the Record," says John Pani. “North Park has all of the amazing qualities that a good urban hood should have; there's an influx of young professionals and new families moving in who are drawn to the neighborhood culture and eclectic array of store fronts. We want to be able to provide a place for these neighbors and families to relax, enjoy fantastic beer and amazing food."
“Waypoints” have traditionally been associated with navigational monuments, stopping places on life’s journey. North Park’s Waypoint Public serves as a destination for families and friends, neighbors and visitors alike to enjoy simple, delicious food and exceptional beer. The identity of Waypoint Public is approachable and authentic, celebrating all of what California has to offer, from the beach to the mountains, to the desert. It embraces the bohemian spirit of a traveler roaming through our beautiful state. Waypoint Public highlights someone’s journey, whether they are a group of locals wandering down 30th Street, or an out-of-towner stopping in for a quick bite.
The 5,000 square foot concept, which has plans to expand with an outdoor patio, underwent a complete overhaul. Among the team of talented design professionals developing the look and feel for the casual neighborhood eatery are Chris Bittner of North Park’s OBR Architecture, interior designer Marianne Berg, formally with Graham Downes Architecture Inc. and Dylan Jones of Little Italy’s Subtext Gallery.
Waypoint brings together an eclectic combination of natural and organic elements to fashion a casual and airy environment emblematic of the Golden State. Some of the more notable design details include four giant retractable garage doors, a private event space to host beer dinners and educational seminars, a children’s area where kids can watch vintage cartoons and old surf movies on a nearby projection screen, as well as an expansive 45 foot wall art installation by local artist, Christopher Konecki, which incorporates inlayed mirrors, recycled and found wooden pallets, and antique bottle openers, cleavers, glassware and more.
Brian Jensen, owner of the nationally recognized Bottlecraft beer shops in Little Italy and North Park, helms the beer and wine programs. As a jack of all culinary trades, Brian has years of experience working firsthand in the food and beverage industry – he attended the French Culinary Institute in New York and worked as a cook, wine rep and brewer prior to opening his neighborhood craft beer boutiques.
The expansive beer program showcases a highly curated list of over 300 bottled craft beers from all areas of the globe, plus a custom 30-tap system playing heavy on the West Coast craft brews. The wine list offers pours from nearly a dozen of California’s premier wineries and vineyards, with a few selections offered on tap. Brian will also roll out a selection of beer cocktails like shandys, micheladas and bloody beers for brunch.
A So Cal native, Waypoint Public’s Executive Chef & Partner, Amanda Baumgarten spent over a decade training and working at several of the most prestigious restaurants in the industry, including four separate Michelin-starred dining destinations, La Tante Claire and Le Gavroche in London and Melisse and Patina in Los Angeles. The Bravo Network’s Top Chef (season 7) veteran has gone on to become the Executive Chef of both Water Grill in Los Angeles and most recently opening Herringbone in La Jolla.
Now, having come full circle, Amanda is precisely where she wants to be, doing something that’s more “her” than ever before. With Waypoint Public, Amanda is fulfilling her vision of bringing an eclectic and truly neighborhood concept to life. Pulling inspiration from the venue’s overarching design theme, her seasonal menus highlight an exceptional hodgepodge of cultural characteristics – Latin, Asian, and European influences she considers already indigenous to the Southern California region.
“There’s something so compelling about being able to mix and match and pull from all of these amazing different cultures,” says Executive Chef, Amanda Baumgarten. “We really do have our own distinct cuisine here in California, making it, from a creative standpoint, one of the most inspiring areas from which to cook.”
Waypoint Public’s debut menu offers a number of eclectic tastes and starters like Po’ Boy Tacos with Fried Oysters, French Fries, Jicama & Jalapeño Slaw; Fried Green Tomatoes; Pork & Veal Meatballs; and Charred Local Octopus.
Dishes like Flank Steak with Dirty Rice, Mustard Greens and Chimichurri, alongside the Carlsbad Black Mussels with Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Kale and a Tomato Sherry Broth round out the main courses. A gifted butcher with a distinct sense of flavor and style, Amanda also offers a selection of charcuterie made in-house.
A heavenly assortment of housemade desserts, including a Chocolate Stout Float with Maple Bacon Ice Cream; a Peanut Butter Brownie Sundae and a Pear Cobbler with Brown Butter Pecan Ice Cream will satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth. Keeping the family-friendly atmosphere top of mind, Waypoint Public will offer a variety of options for kids including a hot dog, cheeseburger, mac n’ cheese, grilled cheese and fries.
Waypoint Public currently opens daily at 3 p.m., with Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week (menu below). Dinner service begins at 5 p.m. (menu below), with plans for a weekend brunch launching in early November. Waypoint Public is located at 3794 30th Street. For more information, please visit WaypointPublic.com or call (619) 255-8778.