Wraps Are Coming Off Gingham—Replacement for Gio’s in The Village

Recalling Ford past, restaurant opening in January will have garage doors serving as two walls.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. Thursday

Gio’s in The Village, shuttered since late October, is no more.  Gingham will take its place New Year’s Eve, say publicists and industry observers.

Overseeing operations is general manager Mike Mitchell, who grew up on Mount Helix.

The lunch-and-dinner spot at 8384 La Mesa Blvd. is the latest offering of Enlightened Hospitality Group led by restaurateur James Brennan and chef partner Brian Malarkey.

“We’re bringing something really special to La Mesa,” Mitchell said in a phone interview last month.

Promising a cuisine termed “Meat Market” with a comfortable dining experience where people are encouraged to linger, Gingham follows the restaurant group’s Searsucker in the Gaslamp Quarter and Burlap in Del Mar. 

Still to come are restaurants named Herringbone in La Jolla and Gabardine in Point Loma.

“Although previously stated that Gingham would open to the public on December 28th, they are now slated to officially open for business in early January,” said Kendall Trainer of jpublicrelations, the restaurant’s publicist, in email to La Mesa Patch.

“However, rumor has it that Brian Malarkey may be offering a sneak peek of the restaurant with a New Year’s Eve bash,” Trainer added.

Even before its local debut, a specialty website in Los Angeles was given a tour of the project.  David Morris of la.eater.com wrote that Malarkey’s focus “now is on launching Gingham, his eclectic La Mesa meat market.”

Morris wrote in a Thursday posting: “As he gears up for a hard New Year’s Eve debut, Malarkey gave Eater a tour around the space, which clearly still has a ways to go. Nonetheless, we snapped a few shots and swiped a menu (lunch, dinner) for a preview of what’s to come.”

 A job fair was held at the Gingham patio, which aimed to hire between 60 and 100 employees, said Mitchell, the operating partner.

Last month, he said: “Anyone who’s a great professional in the hospitality [field]” is urged to seek a job, and former Gio’s employees were welcome to apply.

Nothing on the menu will be over $20, he said, and it will offer barbecue, chicken, pan-fried trout, sandwiches, hamburgers and some “inventive small plates.”

Gio’s closed two months ago for remodeling by the new owners. He said a second bar will be added in the outdoor space, which will be covered during cold weather.

Unlike Gio’s, no karaoke or “performance entertainment” is planned at the beginning, he said.

“That’s not part of our business plan,” Mitchell said. “We’re there for food, friends.”

Mitchell, 53, says he lived his infant years on the east side of Mount Helix. He now lives near Balboa Park.
Dubbed the first “urban cowboy diner” and offering “meat market cuisine,” Gingham is being touted as a lively neighborhood hub.
“I can’t wait to open Gingham and bring a ‘feast in the east’ to La Mesa!” executive chef and partner Malarkey said Thursday. “Think slow-roasted meats, oil boil, beer, whiskey, and rock ’n’ roll—something completely fun and unique to the community.”
Managing partner James Brennan said: “Gingham is an exciting take on various barbecue style cuisines. Our goal with all of our restaurants is to create not only the ultimate gathering spot for those who live in the area, but also an experience worth traveling to for all San Diegans.”
Ryan Studebaker, formerly of Prep Kitchen Del Mar, will be what the restaurant calls chef de cuisine, “serving up various game in every which way—straight up, sandwich style, smoked, roasted and more.”

Gingham will offer dinner nightly and lunch Monday through Friday.

Nightly offerings are divided into categories including Not From a Can, Baked, Oil Boil, Low and Slow, Smoked and Charbroil, said Gingham publicists.

“Standout dinner dishes include pork shoulder made with Julian Cider and fried kale; milk butter chicken and collards topped with smoked corn gravy; venison osso bucco made with stout, chipotle and chocolate; and brisket with Momma’s Dry Rub and hot link; and whole catfish with lavash and house condiments,” the publicists say.

“Gingham’s daytime offerings will be much like its sister spot Searsucker, with open seating, chalkboard style menu and walk-up ordering. Including an array of salads, sandwiches and dogs and sausages, standout lunch dishes include the fried green tomato salad with burrata and balsamic reduction; tri tip melt with gruyere, jalapeno jam and mushroom; and wild boar bratwurst with stewed onions and peppers and house condiments,” publicists said.
Snake Oil Cocktail Co. will be in charge of the bars, they said.
The restaurant occupies a space formerly used by a Ford showroom and has been redesigned by San Diego-based architects Blue Motif.

Blue Motif plans to exploit the building’s barreled roof, exposed beams and concrete floors, Gingham says.

“As guests enter the restaurant, they are greeted by a comfortable lounge filled with a conglomeration of eccentric furniture, complimented by a bullet and gun embellished chandelier,” publicists said, adding:

Paying homage it its showroom past, colossal garage doors serve as two of Gingham’s walls while others are adorned with various faux animal heads and vintage paintings. A plethora of high-top tables outfit the restaurant, evoking the feel of an old-school diner, while a single, large community table is available in the loft space, which will serve as the private dining room. Sizeable windows stand between an indoor/outdoor bar with a retractable roof and the restaurant’s vivacious patio, enhanced with a large fire pit, hanging lights and lush landscaping.

Gingham will be open 11:30 a.m to close Monday-Friday, serving lunch and dinner, and 5 p.m. to close on Saturday and Sunday. Also to come will be Sunday brunch. 

Mitchell first met Malarkey when managing The Oceanaire and most recently has been assisting with the management at sister restaurant Burlap.

The website will eventually be ginghameats.com.

Facebook.com/ginghameats is the Facebook page, and you can follow tweets via its Twitter page at twitter.com/ginghameats.

Lisa S December 24, 2011 at 02:13 AM
Well, John, if you were at Johnny B's last night, somehow you missed my store being open right next door! I didn't close until 9:30 last night. The "village" tried staying open late once a month (First Friday of every month) to attract you shoppers who said you wished we were open late. We advertised it and did it month after month with a very tepid response. You SAY that you want things but in reality, don't support it. So, even though I'm leaving this location, I hope you try suppporting those merchants in the village who try to accomodate your requests. Someone I know who works at a small store in a mall said they did $26,000 in business on Black Friday! It's a pity some of that money couldn't have been shared with OUR business district. That's just one store! Don't cry the blues when all you have left to shop at is corporate stores filled with merchandise from China... (By the way, I'm still here at my store and there are no shoppers...I'm leaving now...peace out...)
Marjorie Van Nuis December 27, 2011 at 02:38 AM
My husband and I moved back to La Mesa (Madison Ave) after 30 years. We love coming to the Village for dining and we're excitedly awaiting Gingham's opening. I have a La Mesa dining trivia question: what was the restaurant name before Jane's Secret Garden? We use to go there for breakfast in the 80s. La Mesa Village Cafe? The Village Cafe? Anyone remember?
TravelGayle December 31, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Was sad Gios closed, but also felt it could use a better menu. The bar was fantastic and it was nice to find a place open after coming from a play downtown. Looking forward to the new offering--we love how the little village is getting some nightlife/good dining. We do our point to keep Johnny bs going strong, and the owner who posted from Lisa's Cottage makes a good point--we need to do our best to keep our local small businesses going so we can have a village.
Steve Sund December 31, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Marjorie, That restaurant was Breakfast in the Forest. They opened here after their restaurant in Idyllwild.
Diane Culp January 17, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Yes we need to support our local businesses. I will try harder, I'm to blame as well. I heard that Gio's evening music stopped because neighboring residents complained. So sad, I thought the summer outdoor music venue was a wonderful draw to downtown La Mesa. (especially "open mic")Can't make everyone happy I guess.


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