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New Drinking, Dining Options Keep Coming In Downtown San Diego

Planned East Village Taproom, Little Italy Marketplace Among Venues Catering to New Residents.

Article By: Lou Hirsch, CoStar

A new craft beer taproom is planned for the ground floor of the Shift apartment complex in East Village. Photo: CoStar

An East Village craft-beer taproom and a planned market-restaurant in Little Italy are just the latest in new dining and entertainment options coming to downtown San Diego, where developers are eager to feed the appetites of thousands of residents arriving at recently completed and upcoming new apartment complexes.

According to plans filed by developers with the Civic San Diego, the city’s downtown planning agency, business owner Claude Burns has applied for permits to open Ale Tales Taproom, a 4,025-square-foot tasting room and restaurant in East Village that will have around 50 craft beers on tap. It is planned for the ground floor of the 368-unit apartment building known as Shift, which opened late last year at 1501 Island Ave.

This would join a number of new dining and entertainment venues that have already opened nearby in East Village, often in renovated older industrial and retail buildings. Among them are 10 Barrel Brewing, which operates a brewpub restaurant in a former printing facility; and Punch Bowl Social, which opened in a former boxing gym.

On the western side of downtown, in the popular Little Italy enclave, local operators are planning an Italian-style marketplace and restaurant concept called RoVino the Foodery, a smaller version of a popular concept called Eataly, operated by another national chain in several U.S. cities, serving Italian cuisine and also selling various ingredients for make-at-home buyers.

San Diego officials have approved plans for RoVino, under construction in an 8,000-square-foot vacant space on the ground floor of the Strata apartment complex at 969 Market St. This would join several new elements arriving in Little Italy during the past year, including new restaurants and an Italian-style public plaza and food hall.

It’s no accident that projects like these are slated for the ground floors of downtown apartment buildings, since much of the commercial space development there in the past half-decade has been spurred by the pending arrival of new residents in new apartment buildings, especially in the bustling East Village.

Civic San Diego data indicates downtown at the end of 2018 had 3,621 apartments under construction, with another 3,985 units approved and pending construction. In addition, new city parks, including a large central public area called East Village Green, are planned to soon get underway to tie together many of the commercial elements that have already come into place.

What downtown still needs, executives and locals have said, is a slew of large employers to keep all those new residents working as well as living downtown. Several developers are at work on converting older downtown industrial and retail buildings into the potential future homes for tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon, which have long bypassed that area for lack of large available creative spaces attractive to younger workers.

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