Spanning multiple levels and concepts across 15,000-square-feet at the corner of Fifth Avenue and J Street, the ambitious downtown dining destination from RMD Group (Rustic Root, Side Bar) is currently on track for a December unveiling in the Gaslamp. Last year, the local hospitality group partnered to transform the historic building, a former hotel, into a multi-story venue that will encompass two high-profile restaurant projects.
Perched on the 5,000-square-foot rooftop will be Lumi by Akira Back. The Korean-born Back is a celebrity chef who operates restaurants around the world, including several in Las Vegas and the Michelin-starred Dosa in Seoul, Korea. A number of Back’s now-signature dishes will be offered at Lumi, along with a modern Japanese menu that includes sushi, sashimi, and California-inspired plates, with James Jung serving as the restaurant’s executive chef. Jung lands in San Diego from Los Angeles, where he was sous chef at Nobu Matsuhisa’s Nobu Malibu and cooked at The Peninsula Beverly Hills and Peruvian spot Rosaliné, and worked alongside Back at the celebrated chef’s LA outpost of Yellowtail. Derek DiNublia, who has been with RMD Group for 15 year serving in various capacities, has been tapped as Lumi’s general manager.
Anchoring the space is Huntress, a 7,000-square-foot steakhouse and Japanese whisky bar helmed by executive chef James Montejano, a well-known local chef who trained at the Michelin-starred Michael Mina. Montejano will be executing a luxe menu of dry-aged meats and contemporary steakhouse dishes, joined in the kitchen by executive pastry chef Melanie Stagnaro. Stagnaro, who was previously the executive pastry sous chef for the James Beard Award-winning Dominique Ansel, is overseeing pastry for both Lumi and Huntress. Named general manager at Huntress, Tamas Kajdi is an alum of the London West Hollywood, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, and the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.
Acting as director of food and beverage for both restaurants is Christopher Roaché. Prior to moving to San Diego, Roaché ran the U.S. holdings of Japanese hospitality brand Plan Do See and worked at the MGM Grand and Venetian Hotels in Las Vegas and the Staples Center and the W Los Angeles in West Beverly Hills. The venue’s beverage team is comprised of sommelier and bar manager Evan Vallée, a vet of San Francisco’s Restaurant Gary Danko and Wayfare Tavern. A San Diego native, the advanced sommelier also worked at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and Vino Carta, a local natural wine store and tasting bar. Lead bartender Sean Ward was most recently the bar manager at OB Surf Lodge and helped build cocktail program at Nolita Hall in Little Italy.