Anthony's Fish Grotto, an institution in business since 1946 and on San Diego Bay since 1966, is about to undergo a major face lift.
The re-created restaurant spaces being designed by San Diego architect David Robinson of David Robinson Design Inc. will feature floor-to-ceiling glass, an elevated roof for more natural light, and the elimination of the rooftop shingles to impart a more modern look.
Co-owner Craig Ghio, who serves as Anthony's chief operating officer, said these features plus a new bar will complement the modern construction at the nearby new cruise ship terminal on the Broadway Pier.
The main Anthony's Fish Grotto restaurant will seat roughly 250 people.
"We'll have a little bit more open space, so that will somewhat reduce the size of the seating," Ghio said
The other major change to the restaurant complex will be coming at the Star of the Sea Event Center. While this venue has been known for hosting weddings and other family events, Ghio said the plan now is to turn this space back into a restaurant known as "1360 Harbor Drive" to reflect the address. The event-center-turned-restaurant is expected to hold about 90 people, or can seat as many as 120 people if the dance floor is used for seating.
While the revised menus for 1360 Harbor and the Fish Grotto are still being determined, the Ghio family has an executive sous chef on board to reinvigorate the selections.
The Anthony's Fishette fast-food eatery will also be getting some upgrades, but on a much more modest scale.
"The Fishette seats about 75 people in patio dining. This too will be enhanced and upgraded with new heating elements and new lighting, but we're going to maintain that open-air feel," Ghio said.
Ghio added that he plans to institute another more modest food and beverage venue nearby as an homage to the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan. Ghio said while this is a good time to upgrade the restaurants anyway, the fact that the lease is slated to expire this year was also a factor.
"The port district wants us to do this," Ghio said, adding that he hopes to extend his lease for 25 or 30 years.
Ghio, who said the bayfront upgrades should cost about $3.5 million to $4 million to complete, said the paperwork for the construction should take about six to nine months to complete. Once construction does get underway sometime next year, Ghio said the project could take as little as four months to finish.
Anthony's Fish Grotto on San Diego Bay isn't the only one that will have seen some major changes. Anthony's Fish Grotto in La Mesa, which has been around for 50 years, has a private spring-fed lake and a few unusual features, not the least of which is a pet-friendly patio where people may dine with their dogs.
Anthony's Fish Grotto and the La Mesa property weren't the only Anthony's in San Diego County. An Anthony's Harborside that had been across Harbor Drive, and a La Jolla restaurant closed many years ago. More recently, an Anthony's Chula Vista closed in 2011.
"We had a number of restaurants that we consolidated for ease of operations," Ghio said.