Nine years into its esteemed tenure on Adams Avenue, Sycamore Den has been sold by its original owner Nicholas Zanoni and will be joining the ever-expanding roster of well-known local bars run by cousins Chad Cline and Jason “Rocky” Nichols, which includes their family’s legendary Waterfront Bar & Grill.
The Normal Heights hangout opened in 2013, replacing a 30-year-old dive bar with a handsome, 70s-inspired space designed by Bells & Whistles (Starlite, Jeune et Jolie). In a statement posted to Sycamore Den’s website, Zanoni reflected on the bar’s inception and history as well as its tumultuous past few years, aka the “bare knuckle fight that defined the bar business in California during the pandemic”. Despite a rough 2020, Zanoni says business has been steady since the second half of 2021.
Though he still operates Thrusters, which is heading into its 23rd year in Pacific Beach, Zanoni told Eater that he wants to delve more into the real estate side of the industry, where he can take on a landlord role; he also owns the Park Boulevard building that houses the flagship locations of Pop Pie Co. and Stella Jean’s Ice Cream.
Paul Ahern of Next Wave Commercial facilitated the sale to Cline and Nichols, who will officially take over operations on June 1. Cline tells Eater that while they will definitely be sprucing up the patio space, there are no current plans to make any major shifts to the bar and its offerings; Sycamore Den will also retain its name and hopefully its existing staff. The duo, who are particularly drawn to established neighborhood bars and have similarly taken the reins at longstanding classic spots like the Aero Club and Club Marina, intend to take their time getting to know the bar and its operations before making any functional changes.