A downtown hotel has enlisted a San Diego-based hospitality group to thoroughly transform its food and beverage offerings, which will include a stateside showcase for an acclaimed Mexican chef. The locally-owned Guild Hotel, which opened in 2019 in a historic building that previously housed the YMCA, has brought on Be Saha Hospitality Group to revamp its anchor restaurant, cocktail bar, lobby lounge, and garden.
Be Saha, which recently opened Botanica in North Park, also operates Tahona Bar in Old Town and Baja as well as Tahona Mercado bottle shops in Baja and San Francisco along with Occulto 477, Wormwood, and Hidden Craft, a beer hall in the Core-Columbia area.
For this project, founder Amar Harrag is partnering with renowned Tijuana chef Ruffo Ibarra, who will collaborate with the group’s culinary director Janina Garay to revamp the Guild’s courtyard restaurant which was previously called Luca.
Ibarra, who’s worked at Romesco in Bonita as well as Spain’s three-star Michelin restaurant Cenador de Amos and Italy’s exalted Osteria Francescana, has owned and run Oryx Capital, one of Eater’s essential Tijuana restaurants, since 2015. An ambassador for World Central Kitchen and the president of Team Mexico in the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition, the chef tells Eater that he’s extremely excited to be creating and cooking on both sides of the border, saying that his new menu for the yet-unnamed San Diego restaurant will continue to celebrate the idea of “Calibaja” — California and Baja as one region with an abundance of fresh, sustainable ingredients and multicultural influences.
Food and beverage across the property, which spans in-room dining and on-site events, will be overseen by Be Saha’s culinary director Janina Garay, also an accomplished pastry chef whose resume highlights include Addison and the much-missed Bracero as well as Central in Tijuana and Chicago’s Topolobampo.
Harrag tells Eater that the bar will be recentered around old-world spirits and digestives with a souped-up wine program while the garden space behind the hotel will be updated to host brunches and seasonal pop-ups. Everything, including the new all-day restaurant, should roll out by late spring. He says that along with a Tahona Mercado retail shop that will open later this year in National City, the group is also gearing up for more expansion in Mexico.