Park & Rec Owner Buys Former Small Bar In San Diego's University Heights For New Dining Concept

June 26, 2021

The restaurateur behind now-defunct Waypoint Public and Park & Rec in San Diego's University Heights has bought the building that housed Small Bar for more than a decade and will open a new bar and restaurant concept. 

John Pani opened craft beer-focused Waypoint Public in 2013 within the 5,000 square-foot North Park corner unit that long housed controversial The Linkery. Pani also owns Park & Rec in University Heights and previously operated Hotel Vyvant in Little Italy. Pani opened a second Waypoint Public location within Del Sur Town Center in San Diego's 4S Ranch area, which operated for about a year before it shuttered in spring 2018. The North Park Waypoint Public closed last year, and the space currently houses Eppig Brewing and is slated to become Nautica, a new Mexican-inspired lunch and dinner restaurant concept from the owner of Swami's. 

Earlier this year, Pani bought the building at 4628 Park Boulevard that housed Small Bar for more than 11 years before the establishment shuttered last fall during the pandemic. Located only a two doors down from Pani's Park & Rec concept, the 1,500 square-foot space will be redesigned to open the frontage up to the outdoors with the addition of a large, al-fresco patio on the back of the building. The yet-to-be named venture will offer a pub-style menu with a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails. Expect it to open in early 2022.