Sky Deck, North County’s latest culinary attraction, is finally nearing completion after a one-year delay linked to the pandemic.

On June 11, a handful of restaurants in the 26,000-square-foot nautical-themed dining destination will open, with the majority online by mid-July.

But on Wednesday afternoon, May 26, the developer and architect of Sky Deck offered a glimpse of the massive 1,000-seat complex, which is the latest room in a four-year, $ 120 million downtown extension. from Del Mar Highlands, to El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Road in San Diego.

Sky Deck is located 14 miles south of Windmill Food Hall, a 12,000 square foot food hall that opened in September 2019 in the former Pea Soup Andersen restaurant building in Carlsbad. The two locations are part of a wave of similar projects that have opened up in the county in recent years, including the Little Italy Food Hall in Little Italy, the Liberty Public Market in Point Loma and the Stages still in the planning stages Outpost. Urban Food. Hall in Poway.

The entrance patio to Sky Deck, a 26,000 square foot dining destination at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

But Sky Deck creator Pat Donahue doesn’t like his career closing plan being compared to other food halls in the region. He modeled his project on El Nacional, the famous 400-seat luxury dining and dining destination in Barcelona, ​​Spain, which he visited on vacation several years ago.

“This is not a food court, and please don’t call it a food court. This is a collection of restaurants and a dining experience, ”said Donahue, the former CEO of Donahue Schriber Realty Group, the Costa Mesa company that developed Sky Deck and owns more than 60 malls throughout. the country.

Like El Nacional, Sky Deck is a large and opulent place with a large bar at its centerpiece, surrounded by independent restaurants that have their own seating areas and full-service staff. Sky Deck will have eight restaurant tenants plus the main bar. There’s also a patio on the Brewers Deck upstairs, where three local businesses, two beers, and a tough kombucha maker, all had their sweet openings this weekend.

Old boats, fish traps and glass floats hang from the 35-foot ceiling of the Sky Deck.

Old boats, fish traps and glass floats hang from the 35-foot ceiling of Sky Deck, a 26,000-square-foot dining destination soon to open at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Donahue said the goal of Sky Deck is to create an exciting venue that will draw a crowd for a night out at the mall.

“Food courts are good for drawing a lunch crowd to the centers, but at dinner time it crumbles because no one will be given credit for taking someone to a lunch area for dinner. restoration. This place will be a date night destination. It will be dinner-centric, ”he said.

Two of Sky Deck’s tenants are excited about the project’s potential for success. Third-generation chef / restaurateur James Augustine, 20, is opening two side-by-side rooms inside the Sky Deck, Zizikis Street Food and J Restaurant. He opened Zizikis for take-out only two months ago and said he was stunned by its success, mainly serving local residents within a five-mile radius.

“Our business has been completely crazy,” said Augustine, who started in the kitchen five years ago at Beeside Balcony in Del Mar. “People are really excited about it. I’m optimistic.”

Sky Deck developer Pat Donahue, left, and chef / owner James Augustine of Ziziki's Street Food and J at Sky Deck.

Sky Deck developer Pat Donahue, left, with chef / owner James Augustine, 20, who is opening two restaurants in the upscale restaurant, Ziziki’s Street Food and J at Sky Deck.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Aaron and Anne Ortega, who co-own Oceanside’s Northern Pine Brewing with brewer Bobby Parsons, are also optimistic about the future. The Married Brewers were the first tenants to sign the Sky Deck project a few years ago. Anne Ortega initially said they will handle the entire upstairs deck, but they are even more excited to share the space with Boochcraft and Rough Draft Brewing Co.

“It’s so exciting to be here with these other companies,” Anne Ortega said on Wednesday May 26th. “We think this place is going to be a big deal. We can’t wait for it all to come together. “

Sky Deck is opening in a pedestrianized area that has seen rapid growth in recent years, according to Chris Elliott, vice president of leasing and acquisitions at Donahue Schriber. It sits directly across from the 2-year-old One Paseo mixed-use project, a 23-acre residential, office and retail development. More than 280,000 square feet of leased office space was recently completed there and more are on the way, Elliott said.

Sky Deck, a 26,000 square foot upscale food hall, above Jimbo Market at Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

Sky Deck, a 26,000 square foot upscale food hall, was built above Jimbo Market at Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sky Deck – built on top of the new 25,000 square foot Jimbo Market and accessible via an outdoor escalator – was designed by Mitra Esfandiari, senior director of RDC Architecture in Long Beach.

Inspired by the history of the San Diego Navy, the interior design has an industrial maritime theme decorated with real fishing boats, lobster pots, glass floats, nets and iron gear salvaged from decommissioned ships.

The building has a 35-foot-high paneled ceiling and its north wall is painted with a 100-foot-long oceanic mural. Esfandiari said she wanted the massive scale of the building to have a unifying ‘wow factor’, but each of the restaurants to have their own unique and intimate design.

Here’s a look at the Sky Deck tenants. To open updates, visit delmarhighlandstowncenter.com/skydeck/.

Sky Deck, a 26,000 square foot restaurant soon to open at Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley.

Sky Deck, a 26,000 square foot dining destination soon to open at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley, is naturally lit with numerous windows in its 35 foot high ceiling.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Sub-floor – Scott Slater of Slater’s 50/50 Restaurants will operate this huge, central cocktail and wine bar with a live music stage and the option to order prepared meals delivered from any of the eight on-site restaurants. Opening June 11.

Zizikis street food – Chef / Owner James Augustine’s Greek Restaurant serves pita wraps, burgers and sides made from family recipes. Now open for take out. Opening June 11.

J at Sky Deck – A New American restaurant, also by James Augustine, offers appetizers and dishes such as grilled Spanish octopus, lamb dumplings, seared salmon and steaks. Opening June 11.

Extraordinary Thai Kiin – Pimwara “Patty” Thongchua, owner of Plumeria Thai vegetarian restaurants in Encinitas and University Heights, will offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Opening June 11.

Marufuku Ramen – This Bay Area ramen restaurant chain specializing in Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen is opening its first location in San Diego County.

Owners and managers mingle at Ambrogio15, the Milano Pizza Experience, inside the Sky Deck food hall.

Owners and managers mingle at Ambrogio15, the Milano Pizza Experience, inside the Sky Deck, a 26,000 square foot upscale food hall soon to open at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Ambrogio15, the Milano Pizza experience – A more upscale version of the popular Pacific Beach pizzeria, will feature more than a dozen gourmet pies created by Michelin-starred Milanese chef Silvio Salmoiraghi and his partner Choi Cheolhyeok. It will also offer a seven-course gourmet tasting menu for 15-20 diners at a time, including Italian dishes and meat and seafood dishes from around the world, with an extensive menu of natural Italian wines and French champagnes. Open on or before June 11.

Craft house – Chef Caesar Huerta and his brother / partner Jose Huerta will be serving New American and Mexican cuisine, including ceviche and whole grilled branzino. The brothers’ first Craft House, a brewery known for its burgers, opened in North Park in 2018.

Urbana, Mexican gastronomy – The second location of Javier Cuadra’s Michoacán-inspired street food stall in the Anaheim packing district food hall, including tacos, ceviches, enchiladas, salads and pozoles.

Glass box – Operated by Chef Ethan Yang of Zen Modern Asian Bistro in Saber Springs, Glass Box will feature yakitori, sushi and other Asian fare in a bar where patrons will surround the chefs on three sides in a glass-walled restaurant. Opening at the end of August.

Boochcraft, Organic Hard Kombucha – Founded in Ocean Beach and headquartered in Chula Vista, Boochcraft serves 16 of its high-alcohol flavored fermented tea drinks on tap in the Brewers Deck upstairs. Open.

Rough Draft Brewing Co. – This Sorrento Mesa brewer specializes in IPAs, ales, stouts, and cask-aged Belgian and bourbon-style beers. Open.

Northern pine brewing – This 3-year-old Oceanside brewer serves an eclectic mix of his house-brewed draft beers, including Smoke Show Black IPA and his Saized & Confused Saison, which won a gold medal at the International Beer Competition de San Diego 2020. Open.

Inside the Sky Deck dining room at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, an ocean mural can be seen above the J.

Inside the upscale Sky Deck dining room at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, a huge, ocean-themed, hand-painted mural can be seen on the wall above Restaurant tenant J , soon to be opened, at the Sky Deck.

(Pam Kragen / The San Diego Union-Tribune)



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