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Rich Sweeney Joins New Iteration of Jimmy Love's

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Last week Jimmy Love's said it was temporarily closing to completely redo the brand, and today we found out the details. Former Top Chef contestant Rich Sweeney will be the man behind the menu.

He's got more free time to cook now that his consulting chef contract with Southpaw Social Club has ended. Sweeney opened R Gang Eatery in Hillcrest in 2010 and recently won the "Chef of the Fest" title at the 10th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.

The Gaslamp fixture's whole look will also change; the space will remain two levels, but the downstairs area will be expanded to up the nightlife factor. San Diego Magazine reports that designer Michael Soriano (Queenstown Public House, The Pearl Hotel) will be putting his modern, magic touch on the unnamed eatery. Onairos Designs will help revamp interior spaces, and A7D Creative Group is charged with branding and marketing the new joint.

Menu details are TBD, but we hear Sweeney is going the "casual but refined, modern American" route and using as much local fare as possible (Cook Pigs Ranch, Suzie's Farm, Catalina Offshore Products, to name a few). Expect a re-opening this spring.

Owners Jimmy and Kathy DiMatteo launched the restaurant in 1995 at the corner of Fifth and G downtown, so the much-needed renovation comes on the eve of its 20th birthday.

The refreshed concept has an all-star cast of partners that have their hands in some of the most popular Gaslamp spots. They include David Schiffman (partner at Double Deuce and Tipsy Crow); Bootlegger GM Mark Huber; and Scott Sanders (Whiskey Girl partner).

-Tierney Plumb