In January 2003, as San Diego prepared to host a Super Bowl, there was a mad scramble going on at the downtown corner of Sixth and Market. Side Bar was trying to open in time for the Big Game—and a planned party being thrown by Derek Jeter. Days before an opening it never looks like a bar is going to be ready. But Side Bar made it, and the Yankee superstar got to play host.
Side Bar was the brainchild of EnDev Enterprises, an entrepreneurial team that created a bevy of hot local night spots—including the still wildly successful Stingaree—but has been hurt of late by the economic crunch. It was Side Bar, though, that brought the bottle service concept to San Diego, and popularized the “New York velvet rope” waiting lines.
Due to either fiscal reasons, or the inevitable fade that overtakes “it” nightlife haunts, Side Bar closed 18 months ago. Tonight, it makes its grand re-appearance, with a number of positive changes. New ownership includes businessman David Laurent and managing partners (and former EnDev operations guys) Mike Georgopoulous and Rodrigo Iglesias, who formed RMD Group.
The bottle service is back. And a million-dollar renovation made the place bigger—its capacity has nearly doubled to 314. That’s due to moving a Ciro’s pizza joint halfway down the block on Market Street.
The new Side Bar is moody and sexy. There are tasteful nude paintings on the walls and video screens. Georgopoulous says a custom-made quasi-porn movie will be looped on one TV. “It’ll be a real conversation starter,” he promised. As will be the birdcages that hang over the expanded Market Street side of the club, the birdcage-shaped DJ booth and the couches that are imitations of a style designed for Paris Hilton.
Under chef Derek Dinublia—who also oversees the expanded new Ciro’s—Side Bar’s new kitchen will be open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday, from 5-10 p.m.
Come for a burger, stay for the sorta-porn.
Ron Donoho, formerly executive editor of "San Diego Magazine," is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com who covers local news, sports, culture and happy hours.