San Diego Restaurant Claims Impending Liquor License Revocation Racially Motivated

August 10, 2023

A popular black and veteran-owned restaurant in San Diego is being forced to close after having its liquor license revoked, and the owner claims the punishment is racially motivated. 

In summer 2021, longtime U.S. Navy chef Geoff Cole opened Chefs restaurant and social lounge in the 3,000 square foot space previously occupied by The Morning After on the corner of 6th Avenue and F Street in downtown San Diego. The bar and restaurant quickly became a hot spot due to its unique dinner service where rotating celebrity and local chefs would showcase their own specialties with their dishes then featured on a weekly basis.

Today Chef Cole announced that his liquor license will soon be revoked by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). In a statement announcing the impending closure, Cole's representative claimed the revocation is racially motivated. 

"Basically, what we were told by ABC, which blew my mind, is the people, you got those people there, it's the people, the black people, it's a black establishment that's the problem," commented Chef Geoff Cole's representative in a video posted to Instagram announcing the revocation. "I asked 'what could we have done differently per se to stop this assault with a deadly weapon?'. 'Oh, nothing you could have done, it's just the people. You need to have a different crowd.'"

The restaurant's parent company, Admirals Experience Inc., received a letter from the ABC San Diego District Office, dated February 14, 2023, which states that the local office had received information from the San Diego Police Department. The letter claims the SDPD had received "a high number of calls for service" from the premises, with Chefs purportedly "allowing" types of illicit activity like drunk in public, fighting in public place, obstruction of police, battery, assault with a firearm on a person, DUI, and much more. Chefs SD ownership has claimed that such activity occurs beyond their control and usually outside the establishment. 

On July 27, 2023, The California ABC filed its First Amended Accusation under Alcholic Beverage Control Act and State Constition, where it listed 17 counts of violations, including multiple instances of live entertainment, permitted dancing, and disorderly conduct. On August 1, Cole posted to his Instagram stating that the local police had been shining a spotlight on the establishment every Friday and Saturday nights. 

After emailing the local ABC office for comment, we at SanDiegoVille received a call from a representative of ABC's San Diego District Office who stated that Chefs license is currently active. When questioned whether it is to be revoked, they explained disciplinary action was pending and they could not comment on any pending action.

"The license at 531 F Street in San Diego is currently active," read the statement forwarded by Devin Blankenship, Public Information Officer for Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. "There is a pending disciplinary action related to violations of the license conditions and multiple incidents where the San Diego Police Department was called to address reported crimes. The licensee has the right to have the matter heard at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge should they choose to exercise such."       

According to Cole, the San Diego ABC says he can choose the last day of business for Chefs. He plans to soon announce his final day and will host a "grand closing" party. He also states he is looking at a large downtown club to reopen his concept.

Chefs is located at 531 F Street in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. For more information, visit and review the California ABC publicly filed Accusation below.