The barely on time, way over budget December opening of Downtown’s Stingaree nightclub was a gala affair that drew some 1,200 well-dressed partygoers who managed to drink and dance the night away without getting any paint on themselves , a minor miracle considering the fact that construction workers and painters, brushes in hand, were exiting the back door just as patrons were coming in the front.
The $6 million project , roughly $2 million more than originally planned , included gutting the 87-year-old warehouse and retaining only its brick exterior walls to create an ultramodern environment that virtually glistens with stainless steel and glows with colored offset lighting that descends on cascading waterfalls, bars, dance floors and seating areas.
While construction crews managed to complete the three-story, 22,500-square-foot Gaslamp Quarter venue that features a mezzanine, catwalk, rooftop patio and three bars within four months from the time they hoisted the structural steel in August, they just recently completed the kitchen and restaurant stations.
Under the direction of club owner James Brennan and Executive Chef Antonio Friscia, the 90-seat, main-level dining area opened in early January.
Friscia has developed a menu that he calls a “hybrid” of cuisines , dishes from around the world with fresh produce from local farms. Not surprisingly, some such as green garlic and porcini bisque with roasted garlic crouton and truffle oil reflect the chef’s Italian background, while another item, Hog Island oysters on the half-shell with coriander chili mignonette, reflects Brennan’s East Coast upbringing.
The Stingaree operates as a club two days a week, Friday and Saturday, from 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., while the restaurant is open seven days a week from 5-10 p.m.
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No Wine Before Its Time:
Orfila Vineyards & Winery in the San Pasqual Valley near Escondido corked 2005 by winning 126 medals in national and international wine competitions. It was also distinguished as being among the nation’s top 10 percent of gold medal winners.
The winery’s winnings included 23 gold medals, a double gold for its 2002 estate syrah val de la mer and platinum medals for its 2002 San Diego merlot ambassador’s reserve and its 2001 sangiovese di collina.
Acknowledging this premier showing, the American Gold Medal Wines/2006 Guide named Orfila Vineyards among the top 10 percent of gold medal winners in the United States.
In September, Orfila made its first major international wine sale, shipping more than 20,000 bottles of wine to Tokyo.
“Orfila wines are now being sold in some of Tokyo’s best restaurants and hotels,” said Leon Santoro, its general manager and winemaker. “We have proven to American wine judges and connoisseurs that great red wines can be made in San Diego County.
“Now we’re taking our wines to the world.”
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Up, Up And Away:
While the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority scrambles to come up with a site recommendation for relocating the airport, Lindbergh Field rounded out 2005 with a total passenger count of 17.37 million, a 6.1 percent hike over the 2004 total of 16.37 million, according to an air traffic report.
The agency, which took over control of Lindbergh Field in 2003, was mandated by the state to put a site recommendation on the November countywide ballot. The idea is to have a new airport up and running by 2015, when, by the agency’s projections, the cramped Downtown airport will become obsolete.
If the trend of passenger increases continues, that date could come sooner. According to earlier estimates, the passenger totals were expected to level off at about 4 percent annually after surging in 2004, when the nation’s economy and air travel began to rebound. But they’ve gone higher.
Compared with a 2003 passenger tally that stood at 15.26 million, the 2004 count was up 7.3 percent, and 2003 was up by 2.2 percent from 2002, when 14.93 million passengers flew in and out of Lindbergh Field.
Among the sites on an official short list of possibilities for relocating the airport are four active military installations in San Diego County and one base in Riverside County. A location in the Imperial County desert is on the list of nonmilitary sites, as are two others inside the county line , one in Borrego Springs and another in Boulevard, but they are far from Downtown.
Send tourism and hospitality news to Connie Lewis via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359.