Shuttered a decade ago after a storied run spanning more than 60 years as a favorite haunt for local luminaries through the ages, the Whaling Bar is due to make its long-awaited return in early 2024. Construction on the historic space has begun, which will restore the once-grand bar at the entrance of La Jolla’s legendary La Valencia Hotel to its former glory.
Its next chapter will be overseen by SDCM Restaurant Group, whose eight notable bars and restaurants across San Diego include the Michelin Bib Gourmand-designated Kettner Exchange, Waverly, and the Grass Skirt. Chosen by the hotel as its operating partner for the renewed bar, the veteran hospitality group will be bringing back some of the cocktail lounge’s most iconic elements, including some of the original nautical-themed paintings by artist Wing Howard that had famously graced its walls since the 1940s.
Working with Schoos Design, La Valencia and SDCM are aiming to preserve the vintage glamour of the bar in an effort to welcome back regulars while updating the space for the modern era. Also being refreshed is the menu, created by the restaurant group’s culinary team of beverage director Eric Johnson and executive chef Brian Redzikowski, whose cocktails and food offerings might include throwbacks to some Whaling Bar classics.