North County San Diego's Historic Cap'n Keno's Bar & Restaurant Set To End 50+ Year Run At Month's End

June 2, 2024

North County San Diego's more than 50 year-old Cap'n Keno’s Restaurant will close at the end of the month so the property can be transformed into a mixed-use development of condominiums and commercial 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. 
Local development company RAF Pacifica Group (also known as RPG) has purchased Captain Keno’s Restaurant and neighboring Portofino Beach Inn for an unknown sum. Currently dubbed the Moonlight Mixed-Use Project, RAF will 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 new project includes a plaza being built in the neighboring property," explained Captain Keno's founder Gerry Sova. "The redevelopment would really affect my business, including taking over a lot of my parking area, so I decided to sell. We will remain in operation for at least three more years." 

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 will serve its last customers on Sunday, June 30, 2024. 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 in late June.  

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