Following a yearlong, multi-million dollar renovation of CH Projects’ Little Italy flagship, Craft & Commerce re-opens its doors as a new dual-concept venue with the addition of False Idol tiki bar. The remodel ushers in an exciting new era for this neighborhood trailblazer. Upon its debut in 2009, Craft & Commerce quickly set a tone for a now thriving culinary hub while garnering such accolades including Food & Wine‘s “Top 50 Bars in the Country” and “Best Bar Food in the US”, features in GQ, The Los Angeles Times, Imbibe, and was the recipient of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s “Grand Orchid”—the highest honor of the annual Orchid & Onion design awards.
Building on CH’s repertoire of notable cocktail havens (Polite Provisions, Noble Experiment, El Dorado, Fairweather), the collective has partnered with today’s foremost authority in rum and the current tiki-cocktail movement, Martin Cate (Smugglers Cove, Whitechapel), to create False Idol’s elaborate menu. Abound with rare rums and tropical creations, the 36-count lineup speaks to Cate’s love affair with exotic cocktails and fulfills his longtime dream to open a tiki bar in one of the nation’s hot beds for Polynesian pop culture, San Diego.
CH PROJECTS LAUNCHES ‘FALSE IDOL’ IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LEGENDARY TIKI ENTHUSIAST MARTIN CATE
Re-opening of Craft & Commerce introduces a dual-concept venue offering wood fired fare by Chef Ted Smith alongside False Idol’s exotic cocktails & rare rum
Hidden in plain sight, a step through an unassuming secret entrance within Craft & Commerce transports guests to False Idol’s faux tropical paradise complete with traditional Polynesian elements of fire & ice (including an indoor waterfall and flaming volcano). CH enlisted a team of legendary tiki artists to fashion a fully immersive environment that pays tribute to the imagined “false idols” of mid-century American worship. Locally based in Escondido, Bosko Hrnjak (Tiki Objects by Bosko) is a pioneer of tiki revival whose elaborately detailed carvings adorn the main bar and walls of the interior space. Ignacio “Notch” Gonzalez (Top Notch Kustoms) artistically combines traditional design elements into a cohesive whole, while simultaneously giving the space its timeless patina. From Papua New Guinea and Maori-style masks to a ceiling covered in glass buoy balls and petrified puffer fish, every square inch of the intimate 1,000 square-foot space is decorated in Polynesian pop-inspired tiki artifacts.
With Martin Cate at the forefront of the spirits program, alongside CH Beverage Director Anthony Schmidt, False Idol’s 36-count cocktail menu is filled with exotic classics as well as modern interpretations. A collection of 200+ rare and vintage rums includes a noteworthy exclusive—a Plantation Black Label Belize 2004 aged and finished in Bourbon, Cognac and Port casks and available only at False Idol and Martin Cate’s Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, CA.
Served in a variety of ornate custom-made tiki mugs, historic recipes from around the world, including Trader Vic’s Mai Tai and Eastern Sour, are accompanied by Cate and Schmidt’s original twists, such as the Mai Sha Roa Na and Ode to Okolehao. False Idol’s menu offers a nod to San Diego’s tiki days of yore with a selection of long lost cocktails from beloved and lamented local hotspots, including the Coronado Luau Special (former Luau Room), Panther’s Fang (Barefoot Bar) and Tonight or Never (former Islands Bar). There are also two punchbowl-style cocktails, including the Luau Scorpion and the interactive Alkala the Fierce — which upon ordering will cause False Idol’s volcano to erupt and the banquette seats to rumble and shake.
Still to Come! Rum & Cocktail Club In the months to come, False Idol will invite imbibers to partake in an exclusive rum and cocktail club created for guests who share a fond appreciation for the spirit.
Open Daily: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Reservations: are available through False Idol’s website or via Open Table
Contact: False Idol | 675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101| www.FalseIdolTiki.com
CRAFT & COMMERCE
CH Projects turned to Craft & Commerce’s original designer, Paul Basile of BASILE Studio, to uphold the concept’s unique aesthetic while simultaneously redesigning the interior from the ground up. The newly expanded 3,300 square-foot space boldly establishes itself on the bustling corner of Kettner Boulevard and Beech Street—visible by the expanded wrap-around patio lined with built-in fire pit tables, ceiling-high bi-fold windows and a convex brick exterior that proudly displays Craft & Commerce’s guiding principal, “Demand Less.” The interior itself resembles that of a dimly-lit, industrial literary cabin with hundreds of hardbound classic novels stacked on ceiling-high bookshelves and handwritten passages from David Foster Wallace scrawled on the walls throughout. Not for the faint of heart, Craft & Commerce’s century-old taxidermy is mounted and displayed throughout the restaurant. Having collaborated with San Diego’s Natural History Museum, guests are greeted by a dramatic grassland scene of a lion preying over a warthog displayed above the taps at the main bar—while the heads and antlers of leviathan beasts are mounted on the tarnished wood-flanked walls, taunting diners with primal realism as they engulf their carnivorous fare.
At the heart of Executive Chef Ted Smith’s revamped kitchen, a beautiful custom-made wood-fired grill fills the dining room with the sounds of crackling embers and seductively smoky flavors that only burning hardwood can impart. Smith’s new menu aims to foster a communal dining experience, offering a diverse selection of veggie-forward shared plates, housemade pastas and larger entrees, including an Aji Marinated Tomahawk Porkchop, Chicken Fried Quail and Black Angus Ribeye. Slow-cooked meats are complemented by a variety of wood fired sides such as Fire-Roasted Eggplant Dip, Grilled Oysters, Bone Marrow and Roasted Carrots to name a few.
Unconventional in their approach, Craft & Commerce’s nationally celebrated cocktail program will live on through a menu printed on real one-dollar bills. Developed by CH Beverage Director Anthony Schmidt and team, the selection ranges from eight light and refreshing sippers to three stronger, spirit-forward options. The concept’s local brewery pride shines through with a 24-tap lineup complemented by a handful of beer cocktails.
- Still to Come! Weekend Brunch: Craft & Commerce plans to roll out a weekend brunch in the weeks to come post-opening.
- Open Daily: Dinner offered daily beginning at 5 p.m. Craft & Commerce remains open Sunday through Thursday until midnight, and on Friday and Saturday until 1 a.m.
- Reservations: Are available through Craft & Commerce’s website or via Open Table
- Contact: Craft & Commerce | 675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101 | 619.269.2202 | www.Craft-Commerce.com
ABOUT CH PROJECTS | California’s southern-most city, San Diego, has for decades been known as a casual, sleepy coastal getaway with a culinary scene to match—fish tacos and Mexican lager epitomized an attitude not unlike that of an adolescent sibling to that of its mature, celebrity chef-embellished neighbor-to-the-north. Enter CH Projects, the visionary restaurateurs-come-social engineering duo that is pioneering the city’s now burgeoning cultural progression with twelve ambitious concepts (Fairweather, Rare Form, Ironside Fish & Oyster, Juice Saves, Polite Provisions, Soda & Swine, Craft & Commerce, False Idol, Neighborhood, UnderBelly, Noble Experiment, El Dorado Cocktail Lounge). Co-founders Arsalun Tafazoli and Nathan Stanton have cultivated an intrinsic core philosophy—that a space should inspire, its design aesthetic and culinary/cocktail paradigm allowing for the seemingly lost art of conversation to thrive in an environment that fosters charisma, thoughtful dialogue, and the resurgence of real human interaction. In stark contrast to the overwhelming neon lights and volatile drone that emanates from plasma screens-as-art in less calculated restaurant and bar settings, CH Projects’ establishments eschew trendy, stagnant décor and menus in favor of an eclectic, contemporary quality borne out of the collaborative efforts of like-minded individuals with a hunger (and thirst) for innovation. CH-Projects.com