Owner Tells Story of Anthony’s Fish Grotto as Lease Nears End

The owner of the iconic Anthony’s Fish Grotto restaurant along San Diego’s Embarcadero shares his family’s story as the Port of San Diego considers bringing in a different business.

“You don’t just replace history like that,” said Craig Ghio, who is the owner of the restaurant.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto is about to celebrate its 70th anniversary, 51st at the Embarcadero location.

Photos provided by Vintage San Diego show the longtime restaurant over the years.

“In 1946, right after the war, my grandmother was an Italian immigrant and a widow raising three children. At age 50 she wanted to start her own business. She wanted to open a restaurant and in 1946, by the old ferry landing, she opened an 18-seat diner,” Ghio said.

Anthony’s 52-year lease expires January 21, 2017. The Port of San Diego says the situation presents them an opportunity to “explore, test the market and ultimately select the best possible team to redevelop this tremendously desirable waterfront location and support an active and vibrant waterfront.”

In May 2015, the Board of Port Commissioners initiated a competitive selection process for redeveloping the prime restaurant site. Six responses were received, and they narrowed the selection to the following three:

• Fish Market Restaurants, Inc. (joint venture with Anthony’s Fish Grotto)
• Sunroad Enterprises
• The Brigantine, Inc.

“When you think about leaving the waterfront or potentially leaving the waterfront when you're still doing a tremendous business, I guess it's disheartening a little bit,” Ghio told NBC 7 Thursday. “We have created a plan/proposal to spend over $12 million to renovate this facility to refresh it and maintain the status as icon on San Diego Bay.”

The Port of San Diego says ongoing negotiations are confidential, but they expect to have a final decision before the end of the year.

“We are optimistic they will make that judgment where they balance revenue, history, the public and create a new vibrant part of the waterfront as a partner with us,” said Ghio.

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