Representatives from two businesses coming to Bird Rock this fall — Wheat & Water Pizzeria and LJ Crafted Wines — updated the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) on their progress during the July 7 meeting held at La Jolla Masonic Lodge.
Wheat & Water partner Doug Ritz said of the pizzeria planned for 5737 La Jolla Blvd., “We are going to count on the residents to support us ... we want to do something the community can get excited about.”
Ritz relayed the passion he and partner Ted Cochrane have for the food industry and La Jolla.
“Ted was born and raised in La Jolla, and got his start in the culinary world working at El Pescador. He got a chance to learn more about food presentation and plating while working at Zenbu Sushi,” Ritz said. “From there he fell in love with making food, so he went to the Art Institute Culinary program in San Francisco. Now he wants to give back to La Jolla and to Bird Rock and contribute something to the community.”
Drawing conceptual inspiration from renowned pizzerias, such as Blue Ribbon Pizza in Encinitas; Beretta and Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco, Cochrane connected with URBN Coal Fired Pizza restaurateur Jon Mangini, where he and Ritz met.
“I ran URBN in North Park for its first four years, and realized I wanted to do my own thing,” Ritz said. “Coming from a place like North Park, we hosted things like fundraisers for local schools, hosted nights for local artists, trunk shows for local boutiques ... and that’s what we’ll be doing here.”
Ritz’s expertise, he said, is in craft beers. “I have great relationships with local brewers and want to do more than just have beer on tap; we want to offer a beer education of sorts, (via) flight nights and giveaways.”
The chef de cuisine is also from La Jolla, but currently working at another restaurant, so Ritz could not disclose his/her identity.
Originally planned to open this summer, Ritz said issues came up in the permitting process. Because the building was built in 1947, it caused unforeseen delays with the city. “They’ve been very finicky about what gets approved and what doesn’t,” he said, adding his partners were hoping for a permit approval that day, but hadn’t heard anything by the meeting time.
Once they get the remaining required permits, Ritz said there will be six weeks of aggressive construction, and the soonest they would open is mid-September.
■ LJ Crafted Wines: LJ Crafted wines owner Lowell Jooste, who originally presented to BRCC in May, reported a new development for the wine bar coming to 5621 La Jolla Blvd., next to Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in the space formerly occupied by Julian Bakery.
The wine bar will sell wines by the glass, in refillable growlers and by the bottle, using wine made in Napa Valley and Sonoma and shipped to Bird Rock in barrels. Appetizers and small plates will be served, but there will not be a kitchen. LJ Crafted Wines is slated to open in late August.
During the permitting process, it was determined the sidewalk fronting the business was not ADA-compliant, Jooste said, due to its slope as connects with the storefront.
“The city came in and said when we re-laid the floor, we would need to chop up the sidewalk to flatten it to ease the grade into the bar,” he said. “It came as a bit of a shock that those were their conditions, but it gives us the option of offering a small sidewalk café with three tables and chairs.” The sidewalk café will extend about six feet into the sidewalk and a railing will surround the area to delineate where alcohol is allowed.
BRCC president Jacqueline Bell noted the configuration would be similar to nearby Beaumont’s restaurant, but not extend as far into the walkway.
However, Bird Rock resident Don Schmidt voiced concern with the new configuration. “We have a lot of elderly people in La Jolla, a lot of people who use walkers or wheelchairs. What happens when you put a railing in is that it pushes everyone toward the curb and it becomes inconvenient for people who are physically challenged. It leads to people falling and not wanting to go out,” he said. “People are walking in the street as it is because the sidewalks are not wide enough to accommodate the foot traffic.”
In other BRCC news
■ Project Delay: Bell announced that the Midway Bluff Repair Project, on the wish list of Bird Rockers for years, was put on hold. The bluff was fenced off five years ago to keep people at a safe distance.
City officals told the BRCC in May that restoration of the overlook at the end of Midway Street, which began to erode 15 years ago from heavy rains and a drainpipe blockage, was underway.
“They were originally targeting September or October as a start date and now it looks like it will start February 2016,” Bell said. “It was delayed due to additional environmental reviews that were required, as well as a lack of specific funding in the latest budget that the city just passed. But Council President Sherri Lightner’s office is working hard to make sure the funding will be available in this budget cycle. We need to wait for that and the environmental reviews.”
■ Summer Picnic: In lieu of an August meeting, the next BRCC gathering will be the annual Summer Picnic, starting 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4 at Calumet Park on Calumet Avenue. Admission is $10 and exact change is requested. email@example.com