Community support is a dish served warm at Wheat & Water in Bird Rock
Community is the order of the day at Wheat & Water, a Bird Rock restaurant that is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
Owner Ted Cochrane, who was born and raised in La Jolla, said “five years is somewhat of a monumental deal, especially in this industry. I am proud of that.”
Cochrane said he’s planning to mark his restaurant’s anniversary with a customer appreciation event and is working on ways to give to surrounding community organizations.
Wheat & Water, at 5737 La Jolla Blvd., serves wood-fired artisan pizzas, burgers and shared plates, along with a menu of craft cocktails.
“We love working with our local breweries,” Cochrane said. “We’re doing a lot to spotlight and support them.”
Cochrane is especially fond of the restaurant’s charcuterie and cheese boards, which are “really important because I feel like that’s a great way for people to break bread with each other and … slow down your eating process ... and connect.”
“We’ve lost that a lot as a society,” he said. “Sit down and talk and enjoy each other’s company and get back to the connection.”
Cochrane said Wheat & Water has evolved into an “atmosphere where everybody can walk in and see 20 people they know at any given time. That’s really important to have that kind of community sinew.”
Cochrane said community is why he started Wheat & Water. He said he was “very lucky” to be born and raised in La Jolla as the son of Charles Cochrane, one of the first five scientists to establish the Division of Experimental Pathology at Scripps Research (then called the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation) and expand the institute.
Charles later became a trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla and was instrumental in its development, Ted said.
“It’s really cool for me to have all the connections of my dad” and Scripps Research, MCASD and La Jolla, he said. “I’m just kind of like a surf kid that grew up here [who] got this infusion of all this other culture.”
Cochrane grew up primarily in Windansea, which he said led him to try surfing with neighbors — a “really pivotal part of my life where I got introduced to this whole community: the Windansea Surf Club and surf contests. … It’s a completely special part of La Jolla.”
He bought the former restaurant that occupied the Wheat & Water space and completely renovated the building, making new dining tables from old ceiling rafters.
“We brought everything back to the raw building and started fresh from there,” Cochrane said.
He said Wheat & Water is special in that “it’s the first time in a long time that a local person has opened up a business that really wanted to be a part of the fabric of the community.”
The restaurant offers “an organic feel, where a local person was building a business for the people. And that’s all I wanted,” Cochrane said. “I didn’t want a pretentious spot. ... I just want it to be affordable, good value. Come in off the beach to a beautiful lunch or come in for date night.”
Weathering the first five years has been a challenge, but Cochrane said “we’re lucky that we went through all the adversity and here we are now with just a bucketload of more knowledge and information.”
“I’m just really thankful that the community has really gotten behind us, because other businesses come and go,” he said. “It’s important that everybody supports each other.”
Looking ahead to the next five years, Cochrane said he hopes to “create more opportunity for our staff,” perhaps by expanding Wheat & Water to other locations.
“If I can build four more restaurants and create jobs for people that have been here ... or they can buy into the business … that’s going to be something that makes me happy,” he said.
“If you do all those things, if you take care of all the people around you, do all the little things and show the respect and ... dedication to them, they’ll do the same for you.”
For more information, visit wheatandwater.com.
Business Spotlight features commercial enterprises that support this publication. ◆
Get the La Jolla Light weekly in your inbox
News, features and sports about La Jolla, every Thursday for free
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the La Jolla Light.