Fox Restaurant Concepts, owner of Flower Child in Del Mar and founder of True Food Kitchen, is expanding in San Diego in a big way — opening four new eateries in the coming months, including two at Fashion Valley — and scouting more locations for the future.
The Phoenix-based company’s growth spurt — this year it plans to add a total of 18 restaurants nationwide to its already sizable family of 50 restaurants — will have an emphasis on the San Diego market in part because founder and CEO Sam Fox has a house in Coronado. Plus, the region’s craft beer-loving, healthy fare-eating customer base dovetails well with the restaurant group’s various concepts, Fox said.
“We love the market, we love the people and we love the area,” Fox said in an interview Friday. “It’s a catalyst. I spend a lot of my time in San Diego, and I would actually like to spend more time here.”
He said Mission Valley provides a dynamic setting for restaurants.
“For a long time, True Food Kitchen at Fashion Valley was our No. 1 True Food. It was very, very busy,” Fox said.
“In the Mission Valley area, you’ve got the mall, the movie theater, offices, residents, visitors. We really love the scope of businesses and how it gets used.”
Fox Restaurant Concepts sold its 20 True Food restaurants — a moderately upscale chain developed with author and health guru Dr. Andrew Weil — to an investment firm in August.
Looking forward, Fox declined to disclose which parts of San Diego County might be the next locations for an outpost of Flower Child, the popular, fast casual, healthy food chain at Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade. But he did provide details on the four full-service restaurants coming to San Diego.
- Two of them will occupy existing spaces (one in Fashion Valley, one in Coronado), while two will be newly developed (at Fashion Valley and in the under-construction One Paseo project in Carmel Valley).
- The first to open, in the fall, will be Blanco Tacos + Tequila, a modern Mexican restaurant, that will occupy a newly created, stand-alone building at the Fashion Valley mall. Fox said it will be near Bloomingdale’s north entrance and will prompt a reorganization of that corner of Fashion Valley. The mall’s valet will relocate to an area in between Blanco and True Food Kitchen.
- The San Diego Blanco Tacos + Tequila will be the first to debut an update to the 10-year-old brand, with a healthier menu and aesthetic and an expanded cocktail program. The restaurant will have an indoor/outdoor bar and extensive patio seating.
- In the winter, the hand-crafted pizza and pasta concept North Italia will open on Fashion Valley’s second floor, taking over the space long occupied by California Pizza Kitchen, which moved downstairs. North Italia at Fashion Valley will have a floating patio to allow for more outdoor seating.
- A second North Italia restaurant is slated to open at One Paseo in the first quarter of 2019.
- In that same period, a yet-to-be-named concept will open on Coronado’s Orange Avenue, currently home to Costa Azul, which is closing. Fox called the new restaurant “an American grill with a coastal vibe.” It will go from serving coffee and pastries in the morning to lunch, dinner and cocktails. A new back patio is being built, the kitchen will be glassed in and there will be an indoor/outdoor bar.
The Coronado restaurant “is an every day neighborhood restaurant, where you could go for everything from brunch to date night to a business meeting,” Fox said.
“It will be a great every day restaurant that the people of Coronado will enjoy. But our real goal is that San Diegans will want to cross the bridge to come over to eat there.”
Fox said the restaurant will have a test kitchen where he can work with his chefs on dish development.
“I’ll tell you, I haven’t had any problem attracting members of the staff who work in Arizona to come to Coronado,” he said. “Especially in the summer.”