Rest In Peace: San Diego's Saddest & Most Surprising Closures Of 2022

December 15, 2022

After a tough couple years, many San Diego bars & restaurants shuttered in 2022. Here we run down the saddest and most surprising closures of the year. 

As acclaimed chef José Andrés once said, "the business of feeding people is the most amazing business in the world," so we are so grateful for all those that take on the admirable task of providing nourishment to their fellow human beings. While there were many bar & restaurant openings this year to celebrate and a whole host of new establishments set to unveil in 2023 to look forward to, below we get depressing and list off the many closings of 2022. 

International Smoke - A wood-fire dining collaboration between award-winning celebrity chef Michael Mina and renowned restaurateur, chef, cookbook author, and television host Ayesha Curry, International Smoke shuttered its San Diego restaurant this past February after less than three years in business. An offshoot of neighboring Nick's Del Mar, South of Nick's Mexican Kitchen + Bar will soon replace International Smoke within One Paseo.

Civico By The Park - After failing to live up to PR-fueled expectations during its tumultuous few years in business, the $3 million Civico By The Park restaurant (and Il Dandy before that) shuttered at the very beginning of 2022 in San Diego's Bankers Hill community. Although ownership vehemently insisted the closure would only be temporary, the prime space on the base floor of the Manchester Financial building that also houses Mister A's was quickly scooped up by Nolita Hall's parent company for the opening of a new bar & restaurant concept set to unveil next year.

Brian's 24 - Downtown San Diego's restaurant that never sleeps is no more! Brian’s 24, the iconic 24-hour restaurant in the heart of the Gaslamp District, closed for good this past summer after more than a decade in business. Brian's 24 modified its schedule during the pandemic and ceased its evening and early morning hours but ultimately shuttered with a celebration and a DJ-fueled boozy brunch. There is no word what will come of the space at 828 6th Avenue in downtown San Diego.

Iron Pig Alehouse - Iron Pig Alehouse was rebranded to become Salsa & Smoke this past summer, but the restaurant eventually ended its 8 year run in San Diego's Pacific Beach. The 4,000 square-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant is currently listed for sale by Flocke & Avoyer Commercial Real Estate firm at the asking price of $800,000. Base rent is currently $12,316 per month, plus approximately $2,000 in taxes and insurance.

Truluck's - A longtime destination for upscale seafood in San Diego, Truluck's restaurant recently announced its impending closure after more than a decade in business in La Jolla's UTC area. The Texas-based, high-end seafood chain will continue at normal hours through December 24, 2022. The company intends to support its employees with both severances and bonuses that will allow them to get the most out of their jobs through the end of the year and then assist them in finding great jobs after closure.

BO-beau - Not only did the original Ocean Beach location of Cohn Restaurant Group's French bistro concept announce the permanence of its closure after sitting dormant for over a year, but the La Mesa branch will also soon rebrand to become Casa Gabriela. The founding chef behind La Doña restaurant in Ocean Beach has partnered with the Cohn Group on the reconceptualized Mexican restaurant, set to open in La Mesa in early 2023.  

Larsen's Steakhouse - After a nearly five year run on the base floor of Westfield UTC mall in San Diego's La Jolla, Larsen's Steakhouse is set to shuttered last spring. In a statement released by Larsen's the restaurant stated mall ownership decided to use "landlords right to terminated lease" for the remaining 5-year term. The 7,500 square-foot space has since been taken over by Mexico City-based Grupo Hunan for the opening of a new, upscale Italian restaurant and bar dubbed Da Primo.

XMarket Retail Store & Cafe - Dubbed as the "vegan Amazon", PlantX has opened a branch of its XMarket retail store and café in San Diego's Hillcrest community in November 2021. The plant-based concept was shuttered by April 2022 and is currently on the market for lease. Jeff Bezos would be insulted by the comparison. 

The Menu - After nearly 50 years in business, San Diego breakfast destination The Menu shuttered in August. The Menu has been a fixture in the Crown Point neighborhood of Pacific Beach since 1976. A new breakfast place called The Hen House just recently opened directly across the street, so this may have been a catalyst for The Menu's closure. The building already has a new tenant and will soon become another location of Japanese ramen restaurant Tajima.

Young Hickory - In the very beginning of the year, San Diego craft beer and coffee shop Young Hickory announced the impending closure of both its North Park and East Village locations. Graphic designer Clay Summers opened the flagship branch of Young Hickory in North Park in 2013 and replicated the concept within the IDEA1 building adjacent to Lola 55 in the East Village in 2018. The modern cafe offered a menu of local coffee, craft beer cans, and casual breakfast and lunch options.

Calozzi's - Despite making one of the best sandwiches in town, San Diego's 4-year-old Calozzi's Cheesesteaks shuttered its brick-and-mortar storefront in Pacific Beach last summer. Philly native Al Calozzi has assured a return to San Diego streets with the impending launch of the company's first food truck. The former Calozzi's space is now Lewis'Itos, a Mexican street food eatery. 

Pannikan La Jolla - After serving San Diego for more than 50 years, Pannikin Cafe shuttered earlier this year. The downtown La Jolla space has since been taken over by Italian cafe Il Giardino Di Lilli. Following an outpouring of support that included customers and friends donating $85,000 via GoFundMe, the Pannikin La Jolla team replicated the look and feel of their former cafe in the site last occupied by a location of Rubio’s Coastal Grill on Fay Avenue. Dubbed The Flower Pot Cafe & Bakery due to the expiration of the license to use the Pannikin name, the new concept serves a menu of house-made pastries, coffee & espresso drinks, as well as an expanded menu with full entree breakfast & lunch dishes.

SuperNatural Sandwiches - After a decade bringing sea to sandwich in San Diego, Supernatural Sandwiches ceased operations under original ownership this past summer. The Miramar location has since been purchased by Andy Hirmez & Kevin Qasawadish, who also own nearby The Pizza Joint. With the sale, the new owners have received Supernatural's recipes and will bring back many of the brand's most iconic seafood sandwiches and dishes. They will also introduce a new sushi menu. 

Doggos Gus - A specialist in Tijuana-style bacon-wrapped hot dogs, Doggos Gus shuttered its Imperial Beach restaurant this summer because the building will soon be demolished for the construction of condos. Doggos Gus is currently looking for a site to reopen in San Diego and still operates its catering and pop-up business all over San Diego County. We already miss Doggus Micheladas, which were some of the best and most authentic in town. 

Family Fun Center - Okay, not necessarily a restaurant, but people were very bummed about this one. After more than two decades operating as Boomers, the San Diego Family Fun Center reopened in September 2020 in Kearny Mesa, but the entertainment destination announced its permanent closure to kick off 2022. The location at 6999 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard is now Hello Mazda of San Diego. 

Zorba's - Following a 33 year tenure, Zorbas shuttered after end of service this past Sunday, December 11. The restaurant is currently doing an auction to liquidate equipment and is for sale at the asking price of $2,500,000. The restaurant is being sold so the owners can retire. Chef Pashalis Koutzimbis opened Zorbas restaurant in March 1989 in San Diego's South County city of Chula Vista. The restaurant originally operated with a Mexican food buffet and an a la carte menu of authentic Greek cuisine, but the buffet quickly transitioned to offer entirely Greek dishes. Zorbas Greek Restaurant & Buffet was one of the first authentic Greek restaurants to ever open in Southern California.

North Park Diner - In 2007, Harry Kim took over ownership of Old Mill Cafe in San Diego's North Park and eventually changed the name to North Park Diner several years ago. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim and his wife cooked meals to be delivered to homeless men and women around their community. North Park Diner closed after end of service on Sunday, November 20. The property the restaurant sits will be developed into a mixed-use complex, and the 3,377 square-foot, 1945-era building occupied by the diner will be demolished.

Great Maple Westfield UTC - As part of Westfieild UTC's overhaul of the mall in 2017, Hash House A-Go-Go co-founder Johnny Rivera and his wife Renee opened a second area outpost of modern American diner concept Great Maple, which first premiered in Newport Beach in 2011 followed by a branch in San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood in 2013. Great Maple UTC has notified its 61 employees of its impending closure, which will take place after end of service on December 22. There is no word what will replace Great Maple within the mall. 

Cotija's Taco Shop Pacific Beach - This might not be a big deal to many, but Cotija's made a hashbrown burrito that I loved with all my heart. Cotija's Taco Shop had been a mainstay in San Diego's Pacific Beach since at least the 1980, then sited on the corner of Mission Boulevard and Pacific Beach Drive closer to the beach. The fast-casual Mexican taqueria eventually spawned multiple outlets around San Diego, which are all now under different ownership. The site is now a location of 664 TJ Birrieria.

Starbucks OB - Not as much sad as it is surprising, Starbucks on Newport Avenue served its last coffees this December after battling to enter San Diego's notoriously anti-corporate neighborhood of Ocean Beach. On March 25th, 2001, the first "No Starbucks in OB" protest took place throughout San Diego's bohemian beach town of Ocean Beach. Hundreds gathered throughout the streets of OB to demonstrate to the Seattle-based conglomerate that the community was not looking for "Big Coffee". Starbucks responded to the protest by almost immediately signing a lease for a quaint space on the corner of Newport Avenue and Bacon Street. Starbucks eventually opened at 4994 Newport Avenue on September 11, 2001, the same day as the 9/11 terror attacks. Suffice it to say, most of OB celebrated this closure. 

Metl Bar Creamery - After a year in business, MétlBar Creamery & Cafe closed in San Diego's North Park last April. Specializing in boozy ice cream, the eatery was owned by Jenna & Randy Elskamp. The original location in the Gaslamp Quarter remains open and the North Park space is now a new tarot-inspired, all-day eatery called The Seventh House

Home Brewing Company - Home Brewing Company was originally founded by George Thornton in 2012 as The Homebrewer, at that time focused primarily on selling home brewing equipment and ingredients. Over the course of its decade in business, the concept changed names, won multiple awards, and added its very own brewery and tasting room. Home Brewing Co. shuttered in North Park in May and the space was taken over by El Cid Brewing, a Navy-inspired craft brewery set to unveil later this summer. 

Hunter Steakhouse Mission Valley - Founded in Mission Valley in 1970 and operating for years as a Hungry Hunter, Hunter Steakhouse's San Diego locations in Mission Valley and Oceanside were sold in October 2008 to Mike Schneider after Hunter's parent Steakhouse Partners Inc. went bankrupt. Although the Oceanside branch remains under Schneider's ownership, the Mission Valley restaurant was sold in 2022 and permanently shuttered in August. Jonathan Frank, who co-owns Home & Away restaurants in San Diego's Old Town and Encinitas, took over the Mission Valley building and is opening a new restaurant called The Remy.

"You can always tell when a person has worked in a restaurant. There's an empathy that can only be cultivated by those who've stood between a hungry mouth and a $28 pork chop, a special understanding of the way a bunch of motley misfits can be a family." ~Anthony Bourdain