Sam The Cooking Guy Drops Out Of Former Buster's Beach House Space In San Diego's Seaport Village

August 10, 2022

San Diego Internet celebrity Sam "The Cooking Guy" Zien is no longer moving forward with his full-service restaurant at the former Buster's Beach House space in Seaport Village. 

In January 2020, it was announced that the 30-year-old Buster's Beach House would soon close in Seaport Village to be replaced by a two-story, 8,000 square-foot bar & restaurant from local hospitality group Grain & Grit Collective and Internet sensation Sam "The Cooking Guy" Zien. As part of the Port of San Diego's plan to refresh downtown's struggling retail center, The Port of San Diego Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a decade-long lease for the building at 807 West Harbor Drive with Grain & Grit Collective, the local hospitality firm founded by Mike DiNorscia (pictured on right in lead image) that operates such area concepts as the Little Italy Food Hall and Carnitas' Snack Shack. The space came with a minimum annual rent of $132,000 in year one, but due to the pandemic, Grain & Grit reportedly never had to pay rent during it short tenure at the space.

Grain & Grit planned to open an ambitious American comfort food restaurant in the bay front space in partnership with Sam "The Cooking Guy" Zien, who the company already works with to operate Not Not Tacos in Little Italy Food Hall and Graze, both sited within Piazza Della Famiglia in San Diego's Little Italy. Eventually, during the pandemic, the Sam The Cooking guy launched a multi-concept eatery, dubbed Eats By Sam, operated mostly online from a walk up counter at the Seaport Village building. There remained a promise of a new, full-service restaurant to open in the future, but we have received word that Sam The Cooking Guy and Grain & Grit Collective vacated the premises in April of this year and will no longer be opening a restaurant in Seaport Village. 

"It's always unfortunate to see a tenant make the difficult decision to do so, however, we wish Grain & Grit the best of luck," explained Port of San Diego Information Officer Brianne Page. "We enjoyed having Sam the Cooking Guy et. al. be a part of the Seaport Village community. They were key partners in jumpstarting Seaport Village’s revitalization, which, under the Port of San Diego's stewardship, has seen occupancy reach over 90%. I can also confirm that the Port of San Diego is in discussions with Cedar Restaurant Group / 3rd Base for the vacant space."

To replace Sam The Cooking Guy, The Port of San Diego has been seeking a new tenant and is currently negotiating a lease with Los Angeles-based Cedar Restaurant Group, which has operated a tavern-style sports bar named 3rd Base in Hollywood since December 2019. Cedar Restaurant Group is made up of former Hakkasan Group employee Drew Gates, Goldman Sachs-alum James Anderson and serial entrepreneur and real estate developer Shyon Keoppel.

Neither Grain & Grit executives nor Sam "The Cooking Guy" Zien responded to requests for comment for this story.