Business Roundup: More Dining Options Opening in La Jolla

Long-awaited La Plaza boutique shopping center announces first four tenants

The Jewel is poised to become the culinary epicenter of San Diego, with the announcement of even more new eateries in and around the Village.

La Jolla Playhouse patrons once again have a cozy spot to enjoy a pre-performance beverage or post-production meal now that James’ Place has opened next door at 2910 La Jolla Village Drive (on the UC San Diego campus).

At the helm is renowned sushi chef James Holder (formerly of Café Japengo), commanding the 3,900 square-foot sushi bar and Asian-fusion restaurant that replaces Wolfgang Puck’s Jai.

A native of Hiyama, Japan, where he learned the art of sushi making, Holder’s tenure at Café Japengo included the restaurant receiving the California Restaurant Association’s Gold Medallion Award for “Best Sushi” eight years in a row.

Holder is also chef/partner at Mitch’s on El Paseo in Palm Desert.

The James’ Place menu includes: Hibachi Hokkaido Scallop with grilled Northern Japanese scallops, lemon crème sauce, chukka salad and habañero tobiko; Truffle Tuna Tartare with cucumber, avocado, diced mango, truffle oil and ponzu sauce; Braised Short Ribs with Hawaiian-style soy marinated short ribs, shitake mushrooms, baby heirloom tomato, sugar peas and pineapple fried rice; and an array of sashimi, specialty rolls and hand rolls.

Complimentary valet parking is available during La Jolla Playhouse events.

Wheat & Water: Born and raised just blocks from La Jolla High School, Bird Rock resident and chef Ted Cochrane is working toward a June opening for Wheat & Water, a restaurant offering rustic, artisan pizzas and appetizers, salads and craft beer and cocktails.

Cochrane got his start in the food industry at age 18, working for several years at El Pescador, before landing a job rolling sushi at the now defunct Zenbu.

After graduating from California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Cochrane worked for several years as head chef on a long-range sportfishing boat, putting in 18-hour days.

“Eventually my body said, ‘We don’t like to do that; we’d like to be back in La Jolla surfing WindanSea,’” said Cochrane, who also worked as apparel production manager at Sector 9 skateboard company.

“I’ve been working on Wheat & Water for a few years now,” he said. “I formed Neptune Restaurant Group to get this thing going.” or

La Plaza La Jolla opening: Following a multi-year, upscale makeover by owner-operator Davlyn Investments, the three-story space (formerly Jack’s restaurant complex) at Wall Street and Girard Avenue will open with a private ribbon-cutting Monday, March 16 at a time yet to be determined.

“We expect to have a larger, grand-opening event over the summer, but it has yet to be determined,” Davlyn Investments vice president Tara Meehan told the La Jolla Village Merchants Association Feb. 11. “We have to be restrained in our announcements because our tenants have very specific communications parameters and guidelines. We don’t want to release anything before they’re ready to do their own PR and marketing announcements,” she said.

The first tenants set to open March 16 include: North County-based Elixir Espresso & Wine Bar, Catania coastal Italian restaurant (read more at and the organic superfood café, Beaming, which also has locations in the Del Mar Center off Via de la Valle and in Brentwood and Santa Monica.

Jackie Beoris, general manager of the Del Mar location, said everything at Beaming is made from nutrient-packed, plant-based foods and is gluten- and dairy-free.

The café serves salads, entrees, snacks, cold-pressed juices and superfood smoothies made from scratch, including its sprouted almond milk made from local, raw organic almonds.

Some of the superfood ingredients include: maca (Peruvian Ginseng), used for centuries to help balance hormone levels and increase energy, and camucamu, a fruit found in the Amazon rainforest that is one of the most dense, naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C.

Also opening in La Plaza is a second location of Lissilaa Boutique (1250 Prospect St.) called La Scarpa (Italian for “The Shoe), which will offer custom women’s shoes.

Owner Jalila Lissilaa honed her skills as a seamstress during her youth in her native Tunisia, later studying the technology of fabric preparation in Paris.

“I’m really about fabric first — I’m a fabric fanatic,” said Lissilaa, who met her husband, a former model, surfer and La Jolla native, while on a modeling assignment in Milan. She opened her first shop in Bird Rock.

Lissilaa and her team also make house calls to help the worldly woman pack a wardrobe appropriate for any destination. Whether designing beachwear, formal dresses or shoes, Lissilaa said part of her role is to school her clients in the world of high fashion.

“I’m the frontrunner; I’m the one who goes to Paris and Milan,” she said.

“I was the buyer for Dodi Fayed and Dubai’s kings and queens. I know what I’m talking about.”

Part of the education includes weaving the rich back-story of certain styles or fabrics. “Everything has to have a story,” she said. “I don’t want to be the common merchant.”