Puesto, Kettner Exchange, Mostra Coffee & Cutwater Spirits Among New Concepts Opening In San Diego International Airport

June 3, 2023 

As part of the city's $3.4 billion redesign of San Diego International Airport, several area bar & restaurant concepts are opening inside Lindbergh Field, including Puesto, Kettner Exchange, Mostra Coffee and Cutwater Spirits.  

Construction on the new Terminal 1 at San Diego International began on November 1, 2021. The project has a budget of $3.4 billion to completely replace the current terminal, which dates back to 1967. Airlines such as Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit, Lufthansa, and British Airways, among other carriers, will benefit from the new section. Officials said the terminal will expand the airport to more than 60 gates and give travelers plenty of options for shopping and dining. 

The previous configuration in Terminal 1 supported 17,000 square-feet of retail and dining space, but after the reconstruction, it will accommodate about 70,000 square-feet. The original layout was built in the 1960s, and the last time the airport overhauled concessions options was in 2011. The airport has been seeking to fill 24 food and beverage spaces, as well as 10 retail locations, aiming to have a mix of local vendors and national name brands. The first package of new food and beverage concepts were approved by the San Diego Airport Authority on June 1, 2023, and includes San Diego-based concepts Puesto, Kettner Exchange, Mostra Coffee, Cutwater Spirits, Parakeet Cafe and Better Buzz Coffee.  

San Diegans Eric and Alan Adler, along with their cousin Isi Lombrozo, launched the first Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar on Wall Street in La Jolla in 2012. The restaurant now has nine locations, including a 9,000-square-foot bar & eatery that opened in Silicon Valley in 2018, a San Diego location sited at The Headquarters at Seaport Village and a huge 10,000 square-foot brewery and restaurant that opened at the former Gordon Biersch in Mission Valley in July 2020. The restaurant offers a menu of Puesto's award-winning tacos, craft cocktails and a selection of Puesto cerveza by its brewmaster Doug Hasker.

Matt Spencer's SDCM restaurant group operates many bars and restaurants around San Diego County, including Kettner Exchange, Devil's Dozen Donuts, Firehouse, The Grass Skirt, Good Time Poke, Waverly Restaurant & Lounge, Vin De Syrah, Camino Riviera and Captain's Quarters. Spencer recently signed on to take over the culinary and bar management for the revival of The Whaling Bar at La Jolla's nearly century-old La Valencia Hotel. Kettner Exchange offers a menu of elevated American fusion cuisine by Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski and an ambitious bar selection from resident mixologist Eric Johnson.

Founded in 2013 by longtime friends Beverly & Sam Magtanong, Jelynn Malone, and Mike Arquines, Mostra Coffee was launched with the goal of spotlighting the Filipino coffee industry and carefully sources its beans from farms in the Philippines. In 2020, the coffee company was named as Roast Magazine's Micro Roaster of the Year. Named after the Italian word for "show", the company currently has cafes in San Diego's Carmel Mountain Ranch, 4S Ranch, Bankers Hill and another opening soon in Hillcrest. Last April, following three days of coffee competition across six stages inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Mostra Coffee took home the United States Roasters Championship award at the 2022 United States Coffee Championships.  

Founded in 2016 by former Ballast Point executives Yuseff Cherney, Earl Kight and Jim Buechler (along with investment from Ballast founder Jack White), Cutwater Spirits quickly became a leader in the premium ready-to-enjoy cocktail market. The company produces premium mixers, canned cocktails and many types of spirits encompassing variations of whiskey, vodka, gin and rum. Cutwater Spirits is based in San Diego's Kearny Mesa neighborhood and operates out a 50,000 square foot production facility, bar and restaurant. In 2019, the company was purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Cutwater will occupy 3,000 square-feet of space inside Terminal 1, which it will share with Encinitas-based Lofty Coffee. 

Parakeet Cafe has been a cozy destination for friends and neighbors since launching in La Jolla in 2017. The health-inspired all-day eatery was founded by husband-and-wife Jonathan Goldwasser and Carol Roizen, who were also the owners of the San Diego-based Juice Crafters locations before rebranding them into Parakeet Juicery. Parakeet Cafe is centered around a menu of handcrafted coffee drinks and healthy meals made with fresh, locally-sourced, organic ingredients. Parakeet Cafe also opened a branch within the ambitious One Paseo mixed-use development, has an outpost in the heart of San Diego's Little Italy and another in Coronado. The airport location will take up only 800 square-feet of space and offer a limited menu of healthy dishes. 
Founded by then-college students Tim Langdon and Stephanie Garden as a coffee cart in 2002, Better Buzz Coffee Roasters opened its first cafe location at 1909 Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach in 2007. The company has substantially grown over the past 16 years and now has several locations in Pacific Beach, as well as branches in Point Loma, Mission Beach, Encinitas, Escondido, San Marcos, La Jolla, Miramar, Mira Mesa, a hub at Fashion Valley Mall in Mission Valley, its flagship cafe and roastery in Hillcrest, and cafes in Temecula and Menifee, CA. There is also a branch in development to open in Coronado. 

Two more packages with sets of additional food and beverage vendors are expected to be announced in coming months. The multi-million dollar remodel of Terminal 1 is already underway and the entire project is expected to be complete by 2028 at the earliest. The new food and beverage businesses will not move in until 2025, when the first part of the new terminal is anticipated to open.

New business have three options to go about operating in the airport. They can either choose to operate the concepts themselves, designing their space with the airport authority and an architect, then hiring a contractor to build the space. Brands can also choose to partner with another national company. The third option would be to license their brand to a national partner. Overseeing the five spaces selected will be Sausalito-based High Flying Foods, which has been operating eight venues in Terminal 2, including Stone Brewing, Phil’s BBQ, and Saffron Thai.

The San Diego International Airport is located at 3225 North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego. For more information, visit newt1.com