The Friendly Restaurant Team To Open French Champagne House & Oyster Bar In San Diego's North Park

March 19, 2024

The owner of burger & pizza restaurants The Friendly is opening a new French-inspired oyster and champagne concept dubbed Ophelia's Raw Bar in San Diego's North Park . 

Brandon Zanavich, the founder of San Diego's beloved The Friendly restaurants, has joined forces with his longtime friend and coworker Joey Quinton for the opening of Ophelia's Raw Bar. Together, they are set to transform the space adjacent to the original Friendly, formerly occupied by Gluten Free Baking Company. Named after Quinton's daughter, who also happens to be Zanavich's goddaughter, Opelia's will feature a menu spotlighting fresh-shucked oysters, caviar, and French champagne, alongside tinned fish and a selection of rotating seasonal crudos.

"We did a pop-up The Oyster Project about 9 years ago," explained The Friendly founder Brandon Zanavich. "I got my funding to open The Friendly from shucking at a private party. Joey has worked with me at The Friendly for about five years now."

Quinton was born on the small island of Kent, Maryland, which has a long history of oyster cultivation. He was previously part of the opening team at San Diego's popular Ironside Fish & Oyster in Little Italy. He recently returned from a trip to St. Louis where 10 of the country's best oyster shuckers shucked 70,000 oysters in two days. 

"Since I was 8 years old, my neighbor would leave a bushel of oysters on the back step from time to time,"  detailed Joey Quinton. "My first job was a dishwasher at a fine dining restaurant, and great thing about being a dishwasher in Maryland, you’re also the oyster shucker. After working at various restaurants through school I finally landed at Phillip’s Seafood. Eventually I became a chef, opened multiple locations and crab decks. It seems surreal that I now have my own oyster named after my daughter, Ophelia’s Pearls, that are now being sold all around San Diego."

In early 2018, veteran San Diego restaurant consultant and pizzaeoli Brandon Zanavich opened The Friendly on a quiet stretch of 30th Street on the outskirts of North Park. The pizzeria quickly gained a cult following due to its no-nonsense environment, frequent chef & industry pop-ups, and the popularity of its now-iconic Dirty Flat Top cheeseburger. 

In September 2019, the team behind The Friendly opened The Friendly Tavern, an al-fresco restaurant devoted to the brand's iconic smashed patty burgers, sited in the former Carnitas' Snack Shack space in North Park. In 2022, The Friendly opened a third location on Garnet Avenue in central Pacific Beach. Then last year, The Friendly unveiled its fourth area location on Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa.

Ophelia's Raw Bar is expected to open this summer at 4594 30th Street in San Diego's North Park.