North County San Diego's Cap'n Keno’s Restaurant Now Staying Open Through Summer

June 18, 2024

North County San Diego's over 50-year-old Cap'n Keno's was set to close at the end of the month, but the historic restaurant will now remain in business at least through the summer.

Captain Keno's is now set to stay open after receiving a two-month extension to allow RAF Pacifica Group to finalize the purchase of its property and neighboring Portofino Beach Inn. The sale was anticipated to close on June 24 with Cap'n Keno's planning to vacate at the end of June. 

Currently dubbed the Moonlight Mixed-Use Project, RAF will soon partner with architecture company SmithGroup to redevelop the adjacent properties into a plaza with "micro" residential units, office spaces, and a restaurant and bar. The company has already invested $5 million into the project, which includes costs for design work and approvals.

In 2021, RAF Pacifica owner Adam Robinson initiated the purchase of the land occupied by Portofino Beach Inn, Encinitas Autobody Repair, a cellphone repair kiosk and Captain Keno's from Cap'n Keno's owner Gerry Sova for the price of $10.5 million. Upon finalization of the deal, RAF Pacifica Group intends to dismantle the Captain Keno's restaurant building and the adjacent, presently-shuttered Portofino Beach Inn. 

In their stead, the company plans to build three two-story edifices complete with subterranean parking. These modern structures will house a total of 45 condominiums, inclusive of four earmarked for very low-income families, alongside 14 commercial units: one reserved for a dining establishment, seven for retail boutiques, and six for office spaces.
Captain Keno’s is considered to be Encinitas’s oldest surviving restaurant, still owned by the concept's founder. The building was originally built as the Shamrock Café, a local drive-in eatery that was a popular rest stop for commuters driving between the San Diego and Los Angeles. The space eventually became the El Rancho Steak House until 1966, then after sitting empty for several years, Gerry Sova purchased the Leucadia property for $110,000 and opened Captain Keno’s in 1970. Sova, who is now in his mid-80s, used winnings from playing Keno in Las Vegas to obtain the Encinitas building, which explains his choice of name for the establishment. 

Captain Keno's is now anticipated to close at the end of August. The restaurant will continue to offer value-oriented dining and drinking through the month and will likely host a going away party at some point this summer.

RAF owner Adam Robinson has stated that the new restaurant & bar he plans to open in the Captain Keno's space as early as 2025 will pay homage to the historic local haunt. Robinson has purchased the Captain Keno's liquor license, as well as rights to the name.

Cap'n Keno's is open Monday through Sunday from 6am to midnight at 158 North Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. For more information, visit