The restaurant at the center of a popular marketplace at San Diego’s Liberty Station is getting an overhaul this month, making room for three new casual eateries at the food emporium.
Liberty Public Market’s main dining spot, Mess Hall, will close Tuesday for a new build out. When it reopens on Dec. 19, the restaurant space will debut expanded public seating and communal areas and three new, laid back eateries: Mess Hall Bar, Pi Bar and Grape Smuggler Bar.
Mess Hall Bar is described as the “fast-casual reincarnation” of the original Mess Hall restaurant. This eatery will offer counter service and a menu of seasonal dishes created using ingredients from merchants at Liberty Public Market – from Fish & Chips to a Grains & Greens Salad. The “market-to-menu” eatery will also include rotating specials.
Grape Smuggler Bar will be a wine and tapas spot spearheaded by Greg Majors, who will expand his Liberty Public Market wine bar, Grape Smuggler Wine & Spirits, over to the marketplace’s eastern dining hall. The original Grape Smuggler, located in the main market hall, will still sell a rotating collection of wines, local liquors, bitters and accoutrements.
Finally, Pi Bar will offer pizza by the slice, specializing in wood-fired pizza al taglio, a Roman-style pie known for its rectangular shape. Pi Bar’s menu will include two-foot-long pizzas available by the slice or as a whole, with both traditional and unique toppings including butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and bacon. Beside pizza, Pi Bar will also sell a selection of savory pot pies and sweet pies.
All three new eateries will be open daily at 11 a.m.
Blue Bridge Hospitality, the company that spearheaded the development and launch of Liberty Public Market earlier this year, said the changes to Mess Hall were inspired by the large crowds that have been filling the market since it opened in March 2016.
The upgrades are part of the effort to increase seating in the hall, and fine-tune the concept of the food emporium.
“The market is a social space and we wanted to continue to feed that success. Inspired by the format of the Pine Street Market in Portland and confirmed by the various bars within La Boqueria in Barcelona, I recognized that we could still take a more elevated approach to our restaurant’s culinary program while integrating the format of the surrounding market and increasing the common social areas,” said David Spatafore, of Blue Bridge Hospitality, in a press release Tuesday. “This more casual approach to in-market dining is simply a better fit with the way Liberty Public Market is used by our guests.”
Liberty Public Market is located at 2816 Decatur Rd., at Liberty Station, adjacent to Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens.
The 25,000-square-foot marketplace – a $3 million collaboration between operating group Blue Bridge Hospitality and developer The McMillin Companies – aims to be reminiscent of public markets in other cities, such as Napa’s Oxbow Public Market or Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market.
The focus at the indoor-outdoor marketplace is on fresh, sustainable, locally-sourced goods, including year-round produce sourced from regional farms, plus merchants offering locally-procured seafood, old-fashioned butcher services, homemade tortillas, breads and pastries, fine wine, locally-roasted coffee, specialty handcrafted goods and more.
As of early December 2016, Liberty Public Market is home to 27 vendors, plus the full-service Mess Hall restaurant.
Many of the small, local merchants are well-known favorites at farmers markets, while some are entirely new concepts debuting for the first time at the marketplace. For most, this will be their first-ever brick-and-mortar establishment after building a fan base around town.
The venue – a historic, warehouse-style building originally built as the Naval Training Center’s commissary in 1921 – has the capacity to house more than 30 merchants.
Liberty Public Market is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A full list of merchants can be seen here.