San Diego restauranteur Johnny Rivera, of Fifth Avenue's Hash House A Go Go and The Tractor Room, is weeks away from opening the doors of his latest venture, Great Maple, on the Washington Street lot that was home to Brian's American Eatery for 13 years until it closed abruptly last summer (Brian's owners opened another spot, called Lil B's, on El Cajon Boulevard in October).
Rivera, who grew up going to breakfasts there with his dad, way back when it was called Topsy's Diner, heard a rumor that a pancake chain (four letters, starts with "I") was interested in the space and stepped in to claim it for Great Maple, his first solo local project without his culinary partner, Exec Chef Andy Beardslee.
Eater got a first glimpse at the 140 seat eatery; Rivera debuted this concept at Newport Beach's Fashion Island in 2011, and designed both the decor, calling it a mix of mid-century modern and "European dinette", and the menu, which will be executed by Great Maple's chef, Carmine Lopez, formerly of The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla.
Great Maple will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and weekend brunch. A baker's oven in the newly tricked-out kitchen means fresh bread and pies; the rest of the dishes are being fine-tuned but include oysters, French dip sandwiches, coq au vin, popovers, beef wellington and seasonal seafood. While Brian's was known for its hefty portions, Great Maple will have a selection of tapas-sized small plates.
A new full liquor license means that Rivera's cocktail prowess can come into play; in addition to a curated cocktail list, they'll also feature a seasonally-driven drink which will be prepared tableside via a roving cart. The cart will also dispense homemade donuts, shaken with sugar to order.
· Great Maple [Official Site]
· All Sneak Peeks on Eater San Diego [~ESD~]