Heading to the heart of the Gaslamp is Queensborough, which will unveil the first component of its ambitious bi-level bar and lounge on 5th Avenue next month. Named for New York City’s largest district, Queens is also the hometown of Shane Brennan (Omnia, Searsucker, Herringbone, Holsem Coffee), co-founder of hospitality group Brethren Collective along with Mike Vizcarra (Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, Searsucker, Bang Bang). The longtime friends, both veterans of downtown San Diego’s nightlife industry, are teaming up with designer Matthew Ellis of Bluemotif Architecture (Juniper & Ivy, Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange), who is also a partner in the project, and brothers James and Edward Kaen, who own the Gaslamp’s Keating Hotel in addition to this 5th Avenue building.
The 1920s-era building, which will also house the incoming Tacos El Gordo, served as jumping off point for the design for the 1,800 square-foot street-level cocktail bar and dining room. With an entryway off F Street, the space will include a vintage phone booth-turned-photo booth from Brennan’s cousin in Queens along with authentic subway turnstiles and New York subway tokens set into the flooring. Mixed with swanky new elements, including diamond-tufted leather booths and custom-made suspended white marble tabletops, will be the original brick walls and brass fixtures of the site’s previous longterm tenant, Maloney’s Tavern.
Due in early July, Queensborough’s upstairs cocktail parlor will be open daily from 4 p.m. onwards. At the 22-foot-long marble bar, the cocktail program will focus on riffs on drinks created in New York City, from the classic Manhattan to newer mainstays such as the Gold Rush and the Penicillin, along with a large spirit collection of hard-to-find bourbons and ryes, Scotch, Irish and Japanese whiskeys plus select gin varieties. In collaboration with Travis Carter (Harvest by The Patio), Vizcarra will also showcase California-based craft distilleries along with 18 taps of San Diego-made beer.
Leading the kitchen is Taylor Houseman in his first executive chef role. Houseman, who attended culinary school at San Diego's Art Institute of California, cooked alongside Chad White at Común Kitchen & Tavern and Ironside Fish & Oyster’s Jason McLeod. His menu, designed to pair well with drinks, includes snacks and shareable plates ranging from spicy housemade popcorn dusted with morita chile ash to whipped goat cheese bruschetta with creamed mushrooms and crispy onions, New York steak sliders with caramelized onion and chipotle aioli, and beignets with Holsem coffee chocolate sauce and strawberry powdered sugar.
The second part of the project, a 6,000-square-foot underground lounge below the upstairs “lobby bar”, will launch in August. Details are still under wraps, but the space will offer stirred and direct cocktails and a nightclub alternative to the downtown audience.