Mission Hills' The Red Door To Become First Community Supported Restaurant In California

June 29, 2016

We recently broke the news that former Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge is in the process of becoming a new craft cocktail bar, Bar by Red Door, scheduled for mid-August opening, but there is another change taking place at the Mission Hills sister restaurants. Beginning this August, The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar will begin the process to become the first community supported restaurant (CSR) in all of California, offering investors a chance to buy into the eatery in exchange for exclusive benefits.

The premise of a CSR is that community members opt to buy in upfront and in return receive exclusive membership benefits. The decision to be partially funded by members is an extension of owner Trish Watlington and her team’s devotion to building a strong local food community that keeps dollars in the county and maintains ethical sourcing. It’s a concept used by a number of sustainable farms and a handful of restaurants in other states.

The Red Door will be the first CSR in California, let alone San Diego. Two membership levels - $500 for a one-year membership and $1,000 for a three-year membership - will offer benefits including an annual members-only dinner at no charge, access to meeting space, members-only garden tours and a host of special classes, exclusive wine release parties, new cocktail tastings and pre-sale access to tickets for Red Door events.

Owner Trish Watlington said she was inspired by the CSR model’s ability to create more gathering opportunities with like-minded people and keep food dollars circulating in the San Diego community that grew the food in the first place. 

“We’re excited that with a solid base of financial support we can let our creativity fly with classes, meals and outreach that will expand the community’s sustainable food knowledge and support for those strengthening our local food system,” Watlington said. “San Diego residents deserve to know how and where their food is sourced and The Red Door is creating an opening for that merited food education.”

Another development for the community-engaged restaurant is the upcoming opening of Bar by Red Door. The bar will replace The Red Door’s previous sister restaurant, The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge, and is a manifestation of the community’s expressed interest in having a true neighborhood cocktail bar and comfortable space to gather with friends and neighbors. The bar will offer chef-inspired seasonal craft cocktails and a farm-driven menu of shared and small plate items. After so many years serving San Diego, Trish Watlington felt it was time to retire the meat-centric concept as it no longer aligned with her ethic of being a good steward of the environment.

Executive Chef Miguel Valdez is the master behind the new craft cocktail menu and will implement seasonal ingredients for the drinks. The cocktails are a reflection of Valdez’s culinary expertise, as many will be infused with bitters that he makes in-house and most will feature Southern California spirits. Food and drink menus will change based on what’s available from The Red Door garden and local farms. 

At this time, menu standouts include grilled carrots served with burrata, carrot top pesto, Meyer lemon balsamic and toasted almonds; quinoa sope topped with marinated Mary’s Free Range chicken, shallots, cilantro and a poached egg; and cactus salad with greens, feta cheese, jalapeño, garlic, shallots and strawberries.

And on the cocktail side, expect drinks like the Vanilla Pair made with Tru Vanilla Vodka, fresh pear puree and freshly squeezed lime juice, and the Blackberry & Lemongrass Agua Fresca with Greenbar IXÁ Organic Tequila, garden lemongrass simple syrup, whole blackberries, lime juice

For more information, visit thereddoorsd.com and barbyreddoorsd.com.