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Saturday, Oct 1, 2022

Grand, Soft Openings Fill Social Calendar in Gaslamp

The guys who make those giant scissors and big, fat ribbons for grand openings must be working overtime to fill orders for downtown and the Gaslamp Quarter.

Following the reopening of the historic 270-room U.S. Grant Hotel on Broadway in the fall, a grande dame restored to her former opulence and then some, the new 43-room luxury boutique Keating opened for business on the top floor of the historic building by the same name on F Street.

Word has it that Paolo Pininfarina, who heads the Italian company famous for designing the Ferrari and the Maserati, and who also designed the Keating’s interior , in Ferrari red no less , is coming to town for the hotel’s grand opening in February. He is also said to be bringing a few of the newest Ferrari models with him. Zooma, zooma.

Meanwhile, the 212-room Sofia, a transformation of the former historic Pickwick on Broadway, was slated for a soft opening in the first week of January.

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History will get another new twist when the luxury 159-room Ivy on Sixth Avenue, formerly the old Maryland, which last served as an SRO, or single-room occupancy hotel, in downtown before it was closed for renovation and remodeling, opens this spring.

Also on the agenda of see-and-be-seen events for the “in” crowd, the Witherby event hall, which will operate in 7,400 square feet of space in the historic 1873 International Order of Odd Fellows building on Market Street, plans to celebrate a grand opening Jan. 12.

The revamping of the historic properties may not set any records. But as far as entertainment districts go, the Gaslamp is getting on the map.

A USA Today travel writer said that San Diego is undergoing “an extreme makeover.”

In a mid-December edition of the publication, Kitty Bean Yancey wrote, “Its once-seedy downtown is going uptown as tacky tattoo parlors and dive bars move out and affluent condo-dwellers, trendy clubs, hotels and restaurants move in.”

Across Town

Late last year, James Brennan and Demien Farrell, who own the Witherby and are partners in the Side Bar, the adjacent Ciro’s Pizza and the ultra-hip Stingaree on Sixth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, closed on the acquisition of a La Jolla landmark.

Brennan and Farrell purchased the building that housed the popular Top of the Cove on Prospect Street for $5.5 million. Built in 1953, it had been reconfigured and expanded over the years, and they plan a complete remodeling.

Including the deck, it has 8,500 square feet of space. Brennan said he is not sure at this time how much space he’ll wind up with, nor is he sure what the seating capacity will be when it reopens. Once plans are approved by the city and the California Coastal Commission, building could take up to two years.

A new name for the restaurant has yet to be determined. It will also contain an upscale bar. Brennan was adamant, however, that the establishment will not be a nightclub, as was rumored.

He estimated the tab for remodeling could run from $8 million to $10 million.

Send tourism and hospitality news to Connie Lewis via e-mail:


. She may also be reached by phone at (858) 277-6359.


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