Brian Malarkey Brings Searsucker to the Table

It's beachy, it's chic and it’s open for business

Sporting his signature hat, “Top Chef” reality TV star Brian Malarkey cut the ribbon Saturday on his new “baby” -- Searsucker.

“This is my very first restaurant and I’m thrilled, I’m excited, I feel like I’m having a baby or actually, more like the hard part is over. Now I’m bringing the baby home. You know, she’s all shined up, she’s looking cute,” Malarkey said.

The award-winning Executive Chef has taken his passion for cooking and entertaining and created a new “American Classic” restaurant – taking his talents a step further from the culinary creations he whipped up at Oceanaire.

Managing his own digs seems to suit this chef.

“It’s more fun. I get to pick out plates and I can tell people how loud I want the music and I make the hours and if there’s a holiday coming up I guess I could just close it if I want to. It’s so much fun,” he said beaming.

Malarkey worked closely with restaurant and nightclub developer James Brennan and interior designer Thomas Schoos, who was thrilled with the finished product.

“Out of 16 or 17 projects, this was one of the smoothest. Everybody spoke the same language; it’s like giving birth… with no stretch marks,” Schoos said laughing.

The design of the restaurant was centered on the local vibe.

“When I walked around this neighborhood, I said… look at the people that are here. It’s low key, it’s flip-flops, it’s generosity, it’s the beach, and it’s California,” said Schoos.

So he wanted to design a restaurant that made people feel comfortable.

“It’s a little bit beachy, but it’s also a little bit chic because we’re opening from 11 a.m. until late at night, so you have to have a day and a night scene with it,” said Schoos.

The design was also centered on Brian’s star quality and his flare for cooking.

“He was like, ‘I would like to be out in the kitchen’, and I thought, that’s it. The kitchen has to be there,” said Schoos.

The kitchen is a focal point of the restaurant and one of Brian’s favorite features.

“You know, the people watching is great. My kitchen’s right there, I can actually see out of it,” Malarkey said.

The restaurant is on 5th Ave in the heart of the Gaslamp.

“We’re very fortunate that we were able to get this building, it has a great history and it’s directly in the middle of the historic Gaslamp. So we couldn’t be any happier, it’s a six way crossway right here,” Malarkey said.

An Oregon native, Malarkey moved to San Diego in 2004 to open Oceanaire as Executive chef.

“Now it’s time to do it for myself and with some great friends and that’s what we’ve done here,” Malarkey said.

He was cast as a contestant on Bravo’s Emmy-nominated series, “Top Chef 3 Miami” and advanced to the finale gaining national recognition. The TV is a place you could see this face again sometime soon.

“I’m very excited, we have some projects that we’re not really allowed to talk about yet, but I think we’re going to see me back on the TV screen here pretty soon,” Malarkey said.

But right now, his focus is on his new “baby.”

“I want to cook for all of San Diego,” he said. “I have fun. I love to cook for people that know everything about food. I like to cook for people who know nothing about food. I like to expose them to a good time and it’s the food, the ambiance, the whole thing." 

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