Brooklyn-Based Home Studios Breathes New Life into San Diego at NeighborhoodAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
As the world reopens and nightlife is coming back to, well, life, restauranteurs and bar owners are eager to give their neglected spaces some much-needed makeovers. Such was the case for CH Projects‘ 13-year-old gastro pub concept, Neighborhood, situated in San Diego’s East Village. In place of the original institution’s comfort food offerings is an ever-evolving menu from Chef Benji Moore, curated taps emphasizing rare beers from small producers, and a dedicated retail bottle shop. All of this is accompanied by two special additional spaces: Noble Experiment and the unveiling of Young Blood.
When Neighborhood first launched in 2007, the founders banned ‘soulless’ products like ketchup and vodka, made local craft beer the central focus of the beverage offerings, and eliminated screens and other distractions to encourage actual, real-life socializing (what a concept!). The original rough-around-the-edges design leaned on industrial motifs meant to honor the parks and home-garages where craft brewing was born, and the initial concept was revolutionary for the area.
But CH Projects founder, Arsalun Tafazoli, says “the culture has jumped the shark,” with countless other copycats exploiting the once novel concept. He says the goal of the recent renovation was to “get back to the roots of the culture, and at the same time push the craft beer bar forward to an entirely new place.”
Tafazoli’s method for making that happen was to cultivate a more elegant and elevated vibe and create an immersive experience honoring the passion underlying the initial endeavor. To do that, he tapped Brooklyn’s Home Studios to head up the renovation, and commissioned Chicago’s Uncanned Music to create the space’s new acoustic environment, which includes a Hi-Fi wall with vintage sound systems and a vinyl library. The space includes a variety of playful furniture and lighting set against a backdrop of traditional European architectural forms and materials. The space features a wrap-around bar with marbled resin tap handles, large scale paneled mirrors, and custom speaker boxes for the sound system. Wood, brass and leather tables anchor the seating around the perimeter, along with onyx, metal, leather and burled wood tables. Custom light fixtures are incorporated throughout featuring brass, fluted glass, milk glass, leather, brass chain and neon.
The tap selection at Neighborhood has been edited down to emphasize unique beers from small producers with a concentration on San Diego brewers and Belgium beers. The new retail bottleshop allows guests to explore limited edition beer offerings with the same level serious connoisseurship typically only seen in the wine world.
Neighborhood’s new and improved menu is ever-changing, with an eclectic mix of internationally-inspired pub classics, and modern, lighter interpretations of nostalgic dishes to complement the beer selection. Tafazoli and team shrank the seat count to allow for a more developed menu, and Chef Benji Moore relies largely on seasonal produce to create an array of impressive dishes.
Located inside Neighborhood is the newly refreshed speakeasy cocktail bar, Noble Experiment, led by Sam Ross. There’s also a new second bar within that bar: Young Blood, an immersive and intimate cocktail experience featuring a 16-seat modular bar console, round porthole tinted mirrors, mirrored upholstered swivel chairs, mirrored tables, and constantly changing beverage offerings. The space also features ceiling height bar shelves, custom lighting, and Parisian carpet. Young Blood is lit by a nearly seventeen foot long brass, glass and neon tiered chandelier, and two seven-feet six-inch tall glowing resin caryatid sculptures, along with velvet and brass table lamps, and brass and resin face sconces creating a golden glow. The back bar features tinted mirror moon art, while a brass and leather ladder allow bartenders to climb for exclusive and rare spirits.
As Tafazoli puts it, “we put an irrational level of detail into this project. To think of where we started and where we are, on a personal level it’s rewarding that we’ve been so supported by the San Diego community and beyond. I’m hoping there were enough weirdos like us who will appreciate it.”
Neighborhood is open 11:30AM to midnight daily. Noble Experiment is reserved on a first-come-first served basis 6PM to midnight. Young Blood’s entrance is ticketed via OpenTable.
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