Cohn Restaurant Group, which has a large footprint in the bustling Gaslamp Quarter, is now heading to other parts of the county to build on its success.
David Cohn, who heads the family business, said that those locales offer the potential of becoming dining destinations, and sees his new establishments as a catalyst.
In November, it plans to open 333 Pacific, a 250-seat eatery that will specialize in steak and seafood at the new Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort.
Cohn said that the project was self-financed. But he declined to say how much the company spent to develop the empty space and would not give revenue projections.
“We hope to surprise people with something they wouldn’t expect in downtown Oceanside,” he said. “We hope it will be a catalyst in its redevelopment.”
At present, the Cohn Group counts 12 restaurants and clubs, including Dakota Grill, Blue Point Coastal Cuisine and Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge in downtown’s historic entertainment district.
The company also plans to partner with Sunroad Enterprises to build a restaurant on the site of the long-closed Reuben E. Lee at the east end of Harbor Island. It was constructed atop a barge to resemble an old-fashioned paddle-wheel boat, but has since become an eyesore.
Cohn said that the old structure will be demolished while the barge itself would be incorporated as a platform for the new, as yet unnamed, restaurant. A banquet hall will adjoin the restaurant and be connected to it by a gangway. Plans include a courtyard that overlooks the nearby Sunroad Marina.
The budget for the project is $9 million and the seating capacity is 900. Graham Downes Architecture Inc. is designing the buildings.
Another of Cohn’s establishments, Island Prime, stands on the east end of Harbor Island. Cohn said they will not compete with each other and will offer different cuisines.
Sunroad originally proposed a 600-room hotel near its marina, but Cohn said plans have been scaled back. Executives at Sunroad could not be reached for comment.
Cohn envisions the new restaurant will provide a picturesque setting for events such as weddings, while the banquet hall could house receptions.
Matt Spencer, who owns the Firehouse Beach Caf & #233; in Pacific Beach and is a partner with Cohn in Aubergine, a Gaslamp Quarter nightclub, said that the view Harbor Island offers across the bay is unsurpassed.
“You have a view of the skyline and the waterline, too, and what’s even more unique is you have parking,” he said.
With the new restaurant, banquet facility and hotel on the drawing board to complement Island Prime and the marina, Cohn said he sees a “dining destination” in the making.