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Whisknladle celebrates successful year with new venture plans

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For downtown La Jolla restaurant Whisknladle, the first year in business included rave reviews for its back-to-basics approach to cuisine, charming ambiance and friendly and educated services. Rounding out a successful first year, Whisknladle has also announced plans to open Prepkitchen, a take-out eatery and gourmet market, in the spring.

Owner, Arturo Kassel, and executive chef and partner, Ryan Johnston, opened Whisknladle with the aspiration of bringing simple, locally grown and farm-fresh cuisine to the San Diego community. "We are incredibly grateful to all of the people who embraced Whisknladle's concept and came in to dine with us in 2008," said Kassel. "Our amazing staff and successful year is a tribute to the talent, passion and creativity of executive chef, Ryan Johnston, and our dedicated staff."

With high hopes for 2009, plans include a spring opening of the duo's newest venture, Prepkitchen. Opening in La Jolla, Prepkitchen is a quick-service, take-out eatery that offers homemade soups, sandwiches and salads, as well as fully-balanced dinner selections of roasted meats, starches and vegetables that are prepared for pick-up and can be heated in the oven at home. Also available for pick-up are house-cured meats, artisan cheeses, fresh hand-made pastas and sauces and Mediterranean anti-pasti.

"Prepkitchen is inspired by all of the prep work that goes into making our handcrafted cuisine at Whisknladle," says Kassel. "With this concept we hope to bring our farm-fresh philosophy into the comfort of people's homes. For us, 2009 is about continuing to strive to make Whisknladle the best restaurant that we possibly can for our guests and to translate that same standard in introducing our new Prepkitchen concept."

Cohn Restaurant Group's steakhouse, Dakota Grill & Spirits, recently celebrated its 16th anniversary with week-long dining specials and a birthday cocktail party to commemorate 16 successful years in the Gaslamp Quarter.

"When we first opened Dakota, the Gaslamp Quarter was not the dining capital and destination of San Diego as we know it today. Opening the steak house in the first two floors of San Diego's first-ever skyscraper back in 1993, before the development of downtown and the ballpark district, was one of our bolder moves, but the success of Dakota is a testament to our delicious cuisine and the wonderful management and staff we've had over the years," says David Cohn, president of CRG.

Sixteen was the magic number at Dakota during the week-long celebration, where a selection of the restaurant's signature dinner entrees, a variety of bottled wines and lunch for two were all available for $16. At the Birthday Bash cocktail party, which took place on Thursday, guests were treated to a special cocktail party with hosted appetizers and live music.

Dakota Grill & Spirits has been recognized with numerous awards including the California Restaurant Association's Gold Medallion Award -- Best American Dining (2007, 2008); Gaslamp Quarter Association's Lamplighter Award -- Favorite American (2004, 2006) and Best Business Lunch; San Diego Magazine voted Dakota Best American (2003); and Union-Tribune's Reader's Poll -- Best Eclectic Cuisine.

Donna Marsh, the upscale designer women's clothing store in downtown La Jolla, is closing its doors after opening in December 2007.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to establish ourselves in the La Jolla community," said owner Donna Steinback. "However, due to unforeseen circumstances our store did not reach the success that we have previously experienced and we are saddened to announce our closing."

Although the closing of Donna Marsh marks the end of an era for the Steinbacks, they will continue to reside in San Diego and pursue other business ventures.

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