Following Federal Fraud Charges Against Owners, StreetCar Merchants Of Fried Chicken Ends Run In San Diego's North Park

July 7, 2023

Following federal fraud charges filed against ownership, Streetcar Merchants of Fried Chicken has ended its run in San Diego's North Park and will be replaced by a new bar & restaurant concept dubbed Happy Medium.

Founded by Ron Suel and RaVae Smith, Streetcar Merchants Of Fried Chicken launched in North Park in 2014 and opened a La Jolla location in December 2016 that closed in less than a year. In early 2018, Suel and Smith launched Suckerfree Southern Plates & Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter, permanently closed in late summer 2022. The duo also took over a quaint space in the Lincoln Park area of San Diego and opened a fast-casual restaurant called Shotcaller Street Soul Food. The StreetCar crew also was in the process of leasing the long dormant downtown space last occupied by RA Sushi but eventually backed out of the deal due to the onset of the pandemic. 

This past May, news broke that a federal grand jury in San Diego returned an indictment charging Streetcar owners Ron Suel and RaVae Smith with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. It is alleged that from March 2020 to June 2022, Suel and Smith conspired to underreport over $1.7 million in gross receipts on their company's 2020 corporate tax return filed with the IRS in order to qualify for the COVID-related Paycheck Protection Program and Restaurant Revitalization Funding loans. The pair also allegedly made false certifications on loan applications regarding the use of the money. The indictment charges that substantial cash withdrawals were made from their business bank accounts to launder the fraudulently obtained funds. As part of the conspiracy, Suel and Smith purportedly concealed more than $2.4 million in cash at their residence.

The longtime Streetcar space has been taken over by longtime San Diego bar experts Christian Siglin and Eric Johnson for the opening of a new cocktail-driven bar and restaurant named Happy Medium. Siglin is considered one of the top bartenders in town, maybe in the country, and has experience working at many area bars, including La Jolla's Hyatt Regency, The Pearl Hotel, Noble Experiment, Craft & Commerce, Sycamore Den, Bankers Hill, Bracero Cocina de Raiz, and is a partner at Fernside in South Park. Eric Johnson is another master mixologist and has worked to develop cocktail programs at San Diego hotspots like Sycamore Den, The Smoking Gun, Juniper & Ivy, Home & Away, Waverly, and Camino Riviera.

Happy Medium is anticipated by year's end at 4002 30th Street in San Diego's North Park. For more information, follow Happy Medium on Instagram.