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Jan 21, 2008 07:02 AM

Laurel Restaurant San diego, kitchen closed at 9pm on Sat!

I walked in to Laurel restaurant on Saturday night and sat at the bar, the time, 9:02pm. Bartender asked what I wanted to drink, so I ordered a bottle of wine.

Sipping on my wine, I asked for some menus. It was then that he let me know that the kitchen was closed and maybe he could be me a cheese board. I double checked my time on my watch because I know restaurants in San Diego close early, but this is getting ridiculous. There were a few other people at the bar and a couple of small tables with diners.

I was a little annoyed that he didn't tell me the kitchen was closed until after I ordered wine. But it amazed me that Laurel is so slow on a sat night that they had to close the kitchen at 9pm ( I found out it is usually open till 10:30 on fri and sat nights). I drew a few conclusions from this:

1. Laurel has to have one foot in the grave. I live pretty close and have noticed they are not really packing them in. In fact, that was one of the reasons I chose Laurel for Sat. night, because it wouldn't be crowded. It would be a shame if they went out of business since they are trying and experimenting with foods that other places in san diego wont touch.

2. The modern decor re-do of Laurel isn't making the impact on diners that they thought it would. Which is too bad that they had to ruin a beautifully classic dinning room (the old Laurel) to find that out.

3. People in San Diego eat dinner so damn early.

4. The Economy is punishing the higher-end restaurants in San Diego.

What time do most people eat in San Diego?

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  1. I guess they were all in Hillcrest. We tried to get dinner probably around 8.30pm and everywhere was hopping! Even our usual places were too busy to seat us within 30 mins!

    Shame about laurel. I quite liked it but my husband really hated the decor.

    1. "What time do most people eat in San Diego?"

      7:00. They begrudgingly eat at 7:30, but no later than 8, and will rush to make a 6:30 reservation (but often will be about 15 minutes late).

      The restaurant-related posters on this board had a very good point about dinner sittings. Very few people in town will eat early or late, so the restaurants lose at least one round of diners on any given night (especially weekends).

      5 Replies
      1. re: RB Hound

        I think it's a circular problem - when I lived in L.A., I ate dinner late all the time. Then we moved to Phoenix and became used to eating earlier simply due to how early the restaurants there closed (especially 14 years ago when we had first moved). When we moved to San Diego, we were hoping to find more late night options. We have even had the experience of showing up to a restaurant which was closed before its posted closing time. It's frustrating.

        1. re: RB Hound

          I agree. I really think that people eating early in san diego really hurts the san diego restaurants. I can understand (I guess) a place not being busy on a tues night, but I was in there on a Saturday! and it was dead.

          I have found that Modus keeps there kitchen open pretty late (I think 12am) and Harney sushi serves pretty late as well.

          1. re: stevewag23

            "I agree. I really think that people eating early in san diego really hurts the san diego restaurants."

            I think you missed part of my point, which is that people here (for the most part) don't eat early, either. They want to eat at 7. Period. And as far as I can tell (admittedly based on a small sample), this is more than just the tourist/convention crowd - the locals have just as narrow of a range of acceptable dining hours. I admit that I'm that way, and I'm betting that many of the fine SD Chowhound regulars are as well.

            1. re: RB Hound

              As a Chowhound, I like to eat at all times of day. ;)

              Once again pertaining to San Diego: I went to Parkhouse Eatery for breakfast this morning (great, btw), but they didn't open til 8:30am, which makes breakfast there a rare indulgence. I teach at least one night class every semester, and I like a late lunch/early dinner to get me through my evening. Many of the restaurants I'd like to try only serve dinner or close between 2-5pm, which is my window of opportunity. Other times during the week, my SO and I return from working out around 8pm and by the time we're ready to go out, places are closed!

          2. try living in Florida, it's early bird country here and not easy to find much open after 9.

            5 Replies
            1. re: smartie

              I once went to a restaurant in Truro, Nova Scotia to find out that it closed at 7P everyday! I got there at 7:02. I was really shocked!

              1. re: Miss Needle

                That's because you were in small town Nova Scotia where everyone at about 5:30. Living in Halifax everyone I know who has moved here from a small town eats early.

                1. re: petra_reuter

                  I would have thought as being the "hub" of Nova Scotia and with all the truckers around that restaurants would be open later. I guess there are a lot of fast food restaurants to fit that bill.

              2. re: smartie

                "Florida" is a pretty large brushstroke. I only really go to South Beach and there is plenty of late night dining there. In fact, it is almost weird to eat there before 9pm.

                1. re: stevewag23

                  true steve - let's say South Fl not including Miami and SoBe.

              3. Don't discount the economy. I think high end places are going to have a difficult time this year.

                1. I had a very hard time adapting to Pasadena, where they apparently all go to bed at 10 pm, after being used to having tons of late-night choices back in the supposed "hick town" of Nashville, TN. I have no experience of late-night San Diego, having spent little time there, but Southern California in general seems to have a much smaller (though not nonexistent) late-night culture than such places as Nashville or Louisville.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    no, no, no, there are many late nite places as well as 24 hour joints. But when you live in a sleepy community, then yes, you will have problems finding spots. Many places in Hac. Hts. and neighboring cities for example, have Chinese eateries that are open very late and are always packed. But, in communities, such as Cerritos, they tend not to let places stay open late. They like to rule with a heavy hand in some of these cities.

                    1. re: justagthing

                      Here in Pasadena, our favorite cheap Mexican place - Tonny's - did a remodel and opened as a 24-hour place. They thought they'd gotten all the permission they needed, but wound up having to submit to a public hearing. A bunch of our very own fellow Bungalow Heaven neighbors turned out to oppose it on the grounds that a 24-hour establishment of any kind is low-class and slummy and conducive to possible Gang Activity. We were appalled by this wrongheaded attitude, not just because the opposing neighbors all live at least two blocks from the restaurant, but because we firmly believe that commercial activity helps to drive out illicit activity...but then I think there was more than a little culturalism involved, as too many of our fellow Anglos clearly disapprove of all those Latino families going out to dinner past a PROPER person's bedtime.

                      Tonny's was finally allowed to remain open until an hour that many neighbors found still scandalously late: 10 PM!

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Oh My, what are those heathens doing? ;) Truly, that is sad and a bit prejudice. I do so hate when people try to imply that another culture is doing something that is improper compared to their own ideas. Sometimes people forget that we are in America, melting pot and all.