This restaurant was designed for celebrity chef Brian Malarkey ("Top Chef") to be fun, casual, handsome, inviting and real.  Set in San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter, it was only natural to evoke history and tradition, but never in a stuffy or formal way.  The design is an homage to the American talent for celebration and having fun.  Perhaps it should be no surprise that the restaurant was voted by Open Table as the #2 restaurant in America.

Although appealing and tasteful, the design is decidedly casual and comfortable.  A living room with low soft couches and chairs is plopped down right in the middle of the restaurant.  The rough tables were left purposefully unfinished to encourage stains -- the more "lived-in" the better.  Chairs are mismatched and brick walls and steel beams are exposed.

History is inescapable in this quaint district, with handsome Victorian architecture visible everywhere.  At night, the neighborhood takes on a party atmosphere with locals and tourists crowding the streets.

Previously, the location had been occupied by a Z Gallerie, with the brick walls and steel beams painted white to set off their merchandise.  It was decided to sand blast the walls and beams to bring back their original natural textures.

In a nod to the surrounding Gaslamp Quarter, wall sconces were created to evoke historic gas lamps, but in a unique, modern way.  Photos of various antique lamps were mounted on glass and illuminated from behind, giving them an unusual 3D effect.

Other eras of American history are evoked through the use of period textures, like the stainless steel siding used in the wall and ceiling of the open kitchen.  This shiny metal texture brings to mind the interiors and appliances used in mid-century American diners and other restaurants.

Another iconic symbol of casual American culture is the roadside neon sign, particularly the once-ubiquitous "Eat" sign that told travelers where they could find a meal on their cross-country trek (perhaps to San Diego?). 

Since San Diego was once part of the Old West, symbols of that era are appropriate, such as the tumbleweeds that might be suggested by this piece of art hanging in the front window.

Besides the overall design, Thomas Schoos was commissioned to create artwork for the restaurant which led to these wry pieces which evoke food but with a sense of humor. 

Nothing is more American than a cowboy, and the cattle industry is summoned through the use of these colorful cowhides used as upholstery.

The striking "rope chandeliers" with their hanging rope loops and period lightbulbs again summon history, but the decidedly earthy history of regular people instead of stuffy elites.  Playing against the refinement of a typical crystal chandelier, the rope instead summons the romance of iconic San Diego tradesmen like sailors and cowboys.

When one considers all the cowboys, sailors and tourists who have passed through these streets over the years, the mix of modern and antique design seems to ask, are we really so different?  The answer, of course, is "no."  So, relax and have a good time!

Be sure to visit our Portfolio section for a complete tour of Searsucker!