As one of San Diego’s oldest communities, University Heights’ rich history dates back to the city’s first land boom during the late-1880’s. Nestled in the heart of this charming neighborhood is a 5,000 square foot property, which has been home to a variety of popular neighborhood watering holes for more than 50 years, including most recently Bourbon Street and Lei Lounge. Come May of 2015 John Pani, founder of hospitality investment and management firm, ELE Collective (Waypoint Public, Hotel Vyvant), will breathe new life into a well-loved neighborhood gem with the launch of University Heights’ newest cocktail concept, Park & Rec.
In collaboration with San Diego’s latest beverage consulting duo Revelry Cocktail Co., John Pani has enlisted the help of acclaimed barkeeps, Trevor Easter (Noble Experiment, Rickhouse, Bourbon & Branch, Heaven’s Dog) and Anthony Schmidt (Fairweather, Rare Form, Noble Experiment) to curate a playful assortment of classically-driven craft cocktails.
Park & Rec will draw on the unique structure of the pre-existing property, creating three individual brick-and-mortar cocktail bungalows surrounding an expansive open-air courtyard. A play on the venue’s name “Park” (Park Blvd.) & “Rec”, the courtyard will conjure images of backyard antics with a variety of recreational table games, such as ping pong and shuffle board. Live entertainment & musical performances will round out the venue’s charming, airy atmosphere.
Celebrating the community’s colorful roots, Park & Rec will serve as a distinct destination, attracting uptown locals and visitors alike. Park & Rec will embrace the image of the ostrich, a wink and a nod to the neighborhood’s former ostrich farm (relocated by Harvey Bentley from Coronado to University Heights in 1904). A popular tourist attraction, the ostrich farm was serviced by trolley car up Park Boulevard and today, the ostrich imagery can still be spotted on neighborhood signs and street markers throughout University Heights.
While design specifics are currently being kept under wraps, Pani aims to celebrate the authenticity of the neighborhood space by keeping certain historical aspects intact. Pani has also acquired the lease on the property adjacent to Park & Rec, a 3,500 square-foot space formerly operated by Lei Lounge, and is currently considering several possibilities for the concept.
Park & Rec is located at 4612 Park Boulevard and will open doors in University Heights in May of 2015.