Jan. 11 2014 12:00 AM

Point Loma's Gabardine and Searsucker Scottsdale go the way of Burlap and Gingham

HamachiLardo
Hamachi lardo with grape and chili
Photo by Michael Gardiner
A month and a half ago, I wrote about the troubled year experienced by Brian Malarkey, Jim Brennan and their Enlightened Hospitality Group's (EHG) "Fabric of Social Dining" restaurant empire. I wrote about how the pressures from the expansion of the business were leading to cracks in the dining experience as well as restaurant closures. Five restaurants and a bullet-proof reputation led to two closures and questions. ---

I also wrote about how, despite those pressures, Searsucker was still capable of delivering a terrific dining experience. A visit to the flagship of EHG's Herringbone brand in La Jolla confirmed that point. Even after Amanda Baumgartan's departure, the food was excellent. The wood-roasted striped bass was exceptional, the shrimp 'n' grits, corn and pancetta was quite good and the hamachi lardo with grape and chili was superb.

Now comes news that two more restaurants have closed. In a statement, Brennan, EHG's CEO, says, "In an effort to remain focused on the national rollout of [EHG's] 'fabric of social dining' restaurant concepts we have decided to close our Searsucker Scottsdale and Gabardine San Diego locations. As [EHG] continues the expansion of our premier brands, we must continue to focus our efforts on the immense success of our current restaurant portfolio. [EHG] remains incredibly thankful for the support of the San Diego and Scottsdale communities and are looking forward to the launch of Herringbone Los Angeles this month."

Unaddressed in the statement, of course, is how the closure of a branch of one of those "premier brands" furthers the "national rollout" of those brands. It's certainly understandable, from a business perspective, how EHG might need to retrench. It's not hard to see why EHG might choose to take some business hits before the launch of Herringbone Los Angeles. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, in the playbook.

However, without a doubt, these moves put added pressure on the launch of the L.A. branch of Herringbone. Malarkey-and Brennan-need to make this move the right move. I wrote that Malarkey's food still had the power to thrill. EHG's restaurants need to show that they have the power to thrill at the table and prosper at the cash register. They need to show staying power. 

At this point, that is very much the matter in question.

Write to michaelg@sdcitybeat.com and check out his blog and reviews. 

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28