Brian Malarkey & Tony Hawk Restaurants Among New Additions For $3.4 Billion San Diego Airport Redevelopment

July 8, 2023

Many new additions to San Diego Airport's dining options are competing for space as part of the $3.4 billion redevelopment of Terminal 1, including a new food hall by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey and a Top Chef-driven bar & grill from skateboard icon Tony Hawk.

Last month, it was disclosed that several area bar and restaurant concepts would be opening inside Lindbergh Field as part of the city's $3.4 billion redesign of San Diego International Airport. The first round reveal included new locations of Puesto, Kettner Exchange, Mostra Coffee, Cutwater Spirits, Parakeet Cafe and Better Buzz Coffee to be added into the airport. Another round of restaurants are in the application process to fill the 19 restaurant spaces within the 32,000 square-foot Terminal 1 when it's fully complete in 2028. 
Skateboarding icon Tony Hawk is teaming up with San Diego's former "Top Chef" contestant Claudette Zepeda to launch Terminal One's signature restaurant named Novecientos Grados, which is Spanish for "900 degrees", Hawk's signature skateboard trick. The 4,700 square-foot space will have a full bar, a modern Mexican food menu and an outdoor terrace with a bay view. Zepeda is a former James Beard Award semi-finalist and is currently the executive chef of Vaga restaurant inside the Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas. A San Diego resident, Hawk is also working on the opening of Chick & Hawk restaurant & bar in Encinitas, which has been plagued by delays and is now not anticipated to open until this fall. 

Construction on the new Terminal 1 at San Diego International began on November 1, 2021. The current terminal dates back to 1967. Airlines such as Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit, Lufthansa, Delta, 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. Next week, the airport authority will vote on the final round of concession proposals  before long-term leases will be negotiated.
Another former "Top Chef" contestant, San Diego's own Brian Malarkey, known for restaurants like Herb & Wood and Animae, is launching a mini-food hall dubbed Herb & Air inside the new terminal. Designed with a modern farmhouse ambiance, expect at least four separate food stations offering diverse items ranging from healthy seafood dishes to sandwiches, salads and poke bowls.
A branch of Pacific Beach-based Ambrogio15 is bringing thin pizza to the airport. Milan-turned-San Diego residents Giacomo Pizzigoni, Andrea Burrone and Luca Salvi opened the flagship Ambrogio15 on Turquoise Street in San Diego's North Pacific Beach community in August 2016. The team expanded in 2018 with a stall within the Little Italy Food Hall and also opened a micro-version of Ambrogio15 within Del Mar Highlands Town Center's 20,000 square-foot, multi-restaurant food hall The Sky Deck. Recently, the Ambrogio15 team launched Ambrogio by Acquerello, a tasting menu-exclusive fine-dining destination helmed by a Michelin-starred Italian chef. 
Also under consideration is a location of San Diego's modern Mexican taqueria concept The Taco Stand. Owned by Aram Baloyan and Julian Hakin, The Taco Stand opened its first location in La Jolla in November 2013 and now has restaurants in downtown San Diego, Encinitas, North Park, and Kearny Mesa, as well as Orange County and Miami. Inspired by the food stands of Tijuana, the counter service chain of eateries has an old-world taco stand décor and offers a menu with a variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, smothered fries and Mexican side dishes.
An outpost of Carnitas Snack Shack is also proposed. Founded in San Diego's North Park in 2011 by Chef Hanis Cavin, Carnitas' Snack Shack became an instant hit with its menu of pork-centric dishes. Along with partners Sweet100, a local private equity firm led by Mike DiNorscia, the team brought a Carnitas' Snack Shack location to San Diego's waterfront Embarcadero in Spring 2016. Snack Shack also expanded to Petco Park in 2017 where it has two locations in left field
A 2,000 square-foot location of South County's Novo Brazil Brewing could bring more craft beer to Lindbergh Field. Founded by Tiago Carneiro, Novo Brazil debuted in 2015 and has been expanding operations ever since, including launching a 12,000 square foot brewpub and restaurant in Otay Ranch Town Center in Chula Vista only a couple miles from its original location. The company also has a kombucha tasting room in Ocean Beach and a location within Bikeway Village in Imperial Beach. In addition to craft beer, the restaurant will also serve tacos, empanadas and other Mexican and South American-inspired dishes.  
San Diego's ever-expanding Mr. Moto Pizza House is also proposing a new pizzeria for the redeveloped space. Mr. Moto Pizza was founded in Pacific Beach in 2015 by Gibran Fernandez - a San Diego native who started in the pizza business at the age of 23 working for La Jolla's Pizza On Pearl, which was owned by Gibran's Uncle Aram Baloyan - who also has ownership interests in The Taco Stand chain and La Jolla's Himitsu sushi restaurant. Mr. Moto Pizza House has since expanded with locations in North Park, Point Loma, Seaport Village, Encinitas, Little Italy, Mission Valley, Kearny Mesa, and the Arcadia area of Phoenix, AZ. 
Expected to be the main bar outside Delta's boarding area within the terminal is a second location of Del Mar's Understory bar. Founded by Slater 50/50's founder Scott Slater and Le Parfait Paris's Guillaume Ryon, the flagship branch opened in 2020 as the central cocktail bar within Del Mar's restaurant collective The Sky Deck. Expect a menu of small bites complimented by craft cocktails.
Another possible vendor is Imperial Beach-based El Pez restaurant, which offers a menu of Japanese sushi with Mexican flare. The space would offer a variety of sushi rolls, teriyaki dishes, noodle bowls and a selection of beer and soft drinks. 
The owner of Sip Wine & Beer in Escondido is also working on a new 1,500 square-foot bar dubbed Sip Wine & Bar. Expect aselection of local beer flights and cocktails, as well as shareable plates. Sip's founder Cassandra Schaeg recently won a local Emmy award for her KPBS program "Fresh Glass." 
Also in the running for spaces within the renovated airport is fast food behemoth McDonald’s, San Diego Mediterranean food chain Luna Grill, local sandwich concept Grab & Go Subs, and chicken chain Chick-fil-A. The multi-million dollar remodel of Terminal 1 is already underway and the entire project is expected to be complete by 2028. The new food and beverage businesses will not begin moving in until 2025, at the earliest, 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. 
The San Diego International Airport is located at 3225 North Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego. For more information, visit