Vacant Denny’s site in Pacific Beach could become Mission + Garnet restaurant collective

Mission + Garnet, a restaurant space with six food concepts under one roof is planned by local restaurateur Scott Slater.
A rendering of Mission + Garnet, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant space with six distinct food concepts under one roof. Local restaurateur Scott Slater has proposed the project for the prime Pacific Beach intersection where a Denny’s operated until 2018.
(Courtesy GTC Design )

Restaurateur Scott Slater has a vision for the former Denny’s site on Pacific Beach’s prominent intersection — a collective of six takeout restaurants linked to one big kitchen, with lots of open space outside for dining and gathering.

The proposed 4,000-square-foot Mission + Garnet project will feature Slater’s fast-casual brands Head Lettuce and Spitfire Tacos, which are already in La Jolla, as well as a gourmet churros shop, sandwich shop and upscale hot dog stand, Slater said.

The idea for the concept came from what he saw during the pandemic — the surge in takeout dining and the financial impacts that hit restaurant owners.

“I want to try to maximize space, labor and ingredients and work with a takeout model, and this location was perfect,” said the founder of Slater’s 50/50, which is known for its beef-bacon burgers.

The Denny’s at Mission Boulevard and Garnet Avenue, in the heart of PB’s business district, had been open about 50 years, but closed after a fire in 2018.

Slater doesn’t want Mission + Garnet to be seen as a food hall.

“You won’t walk in one door and see counters,” he said. “Each space will have its own storefront, personality and smells — but all with the same kitchen.”

Working with San Diego’s HTC Design, Slater has plans for 39 parking spaces in Denny’s existing parking lot.

He hopes to have it ready to submit for city approval by the end of September and is shooting for a Memorial Day opening next year.

Word about Mission + Garnet has already gotten out to Pacific Beach officials.

Marcella Bothwell, president of the PB Town Council, said she has some concerns about traffic issues. But she said it could be an “attractive new concept” to replace the abandoned Denny’s.

“This corner is in the heart of Pacific Beach and I myself am very interested in the entrepreneurial endeavor,” Bothwell said. “I appreciate the shared kitchen space, which has the potential to decrease needed resources and food waste.

“The restaurant selection seems to me a well-thought-out concept with peak usage in non overlapping times for the kitchen,” she added.

Slater said he is grateful to have found the prime location.

“It is one of the most well-known corners in San Diego,” he said. “It’s perfect for a grab and go and head to the beach.”

Cannabist - San Diego, a new dispensary at 4645 Del Soto St. in Pacific Beach had a grand opening celebration on Aug. 21.
(Kate Auda)

Columbia Care, a leading cultivator and manufacturer of cannabis products, held an Aug. 21 grand opening celebration of its new dispensary, Cannabist – San Diego in Pacific Beach.

The dispensary, at 4645 Del Soto St., serves medical patients and adult-use customers. The grand opening event featured live music by WeeGee Diego and DJ Fluffy, a selfie booth, Taco Love food truck, and 22 on-site vendors.

The idea behind Cannabist is to make shopping for cannabis approachable and straightforward, accommodating the range of experience levels patients may have when they walk through the doors, Columbia Care representatives said.

The store has adopted an approach similar to Starbucks or Sephora retail models, featuring kiosks installed with Columbia Care’s Forage technology, which matches the customer’s mood, preferences and activities to different products and strains within the dispensary, representatives said.

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