98 Bottles first opened in 2011, but new proprietors took over the Kettner Boulevard venue just before the holidays and have temporary closed the space for a revamp that will be unveiled next month; a soft opening is scheduled for March 11. Owner Chris Joseph says that Little Italy’s Loading Dock will be positioned as an upscale sports bar and grill, with a new menu centered around SoCal barbecue, including a signature trip tip sandwich which will be cooked up on the eatery’s sidewalk patio. Named for building’s original function as a loading dock for the railway in the neighborhood’s early days, the restaurant will feature a redesigned dining room with seating for 82 guests.
Keeping it all in the family, Joseph’s cousin is the general manager while his father, an industry vet, will help oversee the site’s back room. Previously used for everything from live music and entertainment to private parties, the space has been spruced up with a photo booth and full audio/visual capabilities for rental as a special event and catering space. Open from 4 p.m. to close on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends, Little Italy’s Loading Dock will serve beer and wine and offer a competitive happy hour; starting Wednesday, March 22, it will launch weekly Comedy Wednesdays featuring performances by regional comedians.