San Diego Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey To Open Herb & Ranch Food Hall

July 23, 2019

The San Diego celebrity chef that once-upon-a-time built and sold his fabric-themed restaurant mini-empire is rapidly expanding once again. Chef Brian Malarkey, who is currently readying two restaurants to unveil in San Diego later this year, has announnced plans for Herb & Ranch - a multi-concept food hall set to open in Orange County, California.

Reminiscent of the early days of Malarkey's "fabric-named" brand of eateries (Searsuckers, Herringbone), the now-seasoned restaurateur is advancing round two of his plan to take the Southern California restaurant industry by storm. After the greatly-successful rebirth of the Malarkey empire with the launch of Herb & Wood and Herb & Eatery in Little Italy in Spring 2016, Malarkey is currently in the process of bringing a similar version of the concept to Encinitas with seafood-focused Herb & Sea launching later this year within the 5,500 square foot building at 131 West D Street above Moonlight Beach. Chef Malarkey and his partner Christopher Puffer are also working on a variety of other dining concepts, including Animae - an upscale French-meets-Japanese and Southeast Asian fusion restaurant nearly ready to open at the 15,000 square-foot ground floor retail unit at downtown San Diego's newest high-end high rise of condiminiums Pacific Gate by Bosa. Also in the pipeline are ice creamery and donut shop Unholy Doughnuts & Creamery and Gochujang, which we believe will be a Korean fusion eatery centered around the culinary technique of fermentation.

"Think of this, a food hall with five different vendors, but we are all the vendors," explained Chef Malarkey. "I'm going to be working, personally, behind each and every counter."

Herb & Ranch will be the sixth restaurant concept, and first outside of San Diego from the Puffer Malarkey Collective. Blending a contemporary farmhouse design with a Southern California vibe, the new dining concept will serve numerous dining options from five stations like a traditional food hall, including Mahalo poke bar, The Press Italian sandwiches and soups, the health focused Greens & Grains, and Farmstead Kitchen Grill. Located on the first floor and adjacent to The Commons at UCI Research Park in the Irvine Area of Orange County, Herb & Ranch will offer an open-air patio with casual workspaces and an inviting indoor-outdoor dining, meeting and event space. The restaurant’s attractive design and decor will be complemented by expansive outdoor patios and on-site organic gardens.  

"Orange County’s talented and educated workforce seeks a sophisticated and adventurous dining experience, which makes UCI Research Park a natural fit for Herb & Ranch," continued Malarkey. "The business park’s emphasis on sustainability and indoor-outdoor gathering spaces aligns perfectly with the dining and culinary experiences our team creates." 

Chef Brian Malarkey first tasted celebrity when he made a name for himself as a finalist on Bravo's Top Chef Season 3 while he was Executive Chef of downtown San Diego's Oceanaire. The Bend Oregon native steamrolled his newfound stardom into his own fabric brand of restaurants with the launch of Searsucker in the San Diego Gaslamp in 2010. Malarkey went on to open and close more than a dozen other restaurants over a short time before he and then-business partner James Brennan sold off the majority share of Enlightened Hospitality Group to Abu Dhabi-based Hakkasan Ltd. in 2014. Malarkey also serves regularly as a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, makes regular appearances on the Today Show and Good Morning America, and was a winning mentor on ABC’s now-defunct The Taste primetime culinary competition led by the dearly departed Anthony Bourdain.

For more information on Chef Brian Malarkey and his restaurants, visit