Consistency is the byword as Piatti celebrates 25 years in La Jolla
Published - 02/02/16 - 06:04 AM | 14980 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
La Jolla Shores' Piatti Italian Restaurant & Bar, hosting its 25-year celebration on Feb. 25, has had the same chef since the day it opened. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
La Jolla Shores' Piatti Italian Restaurant & Bar, hosting its 25-year celebration on Feb. 25, has had the same chef since the day it opened. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
This year, Piatti Italian Restaurant & Bar is celebrating 25 years as a cornerstone eatery in La Jolla Shores.

The quarter-century celebration, replete with lively cocktails, fabulous wines and culinary delights served up by longtime chef Pepe Ccapatinta, is set at the restaurant at 2182 Avenida De La Playa for Thursday, Feb. 25, from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.

Proceeds from the dining fundraiser will benefit Las Patronas and the La Jolla Shores Business Association, a micro-business improvement district.

What distinguishes Piatti and has allowed it to survive the rigorous test of time?

“We've had the same chef since the day we opened,” noted restaurant general manager Tom Spano, adding, “Also, our food is very consistent. If you come in and say 'I want the same dish I had six months ago,' it's probably still going to be on the menu.”

Piatti of La Jolla Shores is one of nine in the restaurant chain, all of the same name and five of which are in California.

The Italian eatery — and its La Jolla neighborhood — share a lot of culinary history. But before it was Italian, the restaurant served German fare.

Preceding Piatti was another gone-but-not-forgotten establishment, Rheinlander Haus restaurant, bar, gift shop and coffee shop. It was a slice of Germany in the Shores, serving cuisine from that country from 1956 to 1984. In between those two restaurants, for a brief stint, was Gustaf-Anders Swedish cuisine.

Rheinlander Haus was co-owned and operated by European immigrant Ernest Kloeble, who died in 2012 at age 83, and his business partner, Al Williams. During their years together, the restaurant duo established a couple of important San Diego restauranting precedents. They were one of the first to get outdoor seating, even securing a permit their last couple years in business to close down the street for Oktoberfests.

Rheinlander was also one of the first privately owned San Diego eateries to have a completely tiled kitchen. Additionally, it was one of the first businesses on the West Coast to serve imported German beer.

Spano, who's been employed at Piatti off and on since coming to San Diego in 1989, said the retail landscape was quite different when Piatti first arrived.

“The partners of Piatti restaurants, started by the Harmon family of Mill Valley, bought the restaurant building from Helen Copley and former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor,” Spano said, noting that Osteria Romantica, the Italian restaurant across the street today, was a bank back then.

“Where the Shorehouse Kitchen is now used to be a Chinese restaurant,” said Spano. “There used to be a travel agency where Galaxy Taco is now.”

A Mexican restaurant used to be where Barbarella's is across the street. In fact, Barbarella's owner, Barbara Beltaire, got her start at Piatti.

“I was hired when Barbara was the general manager,” Spano said.

Spano said one thing that has changed over the years with Piatti is that it's now “a little bit more organized.”

“Years ago, there wasn't even a training manual,” Spano said, “so I created one.”

Citing 25 years in business as “a milestone,” Spano said Piatti's 10th and 20th anniversary celebrations were also important and helped the restaurant build its tradition of giving back to the community via annual party fundraising celebrations.

“This year, we're doing something different,” said Spano, chair of the La Jolla Shores Business Association. The association, he noted, “will be getting a portion of the (fundraiser) proceeds.”

As chair of the Shores micro-business improvement district, Spano is now helping guide the future direction of the community and its storied beach, which draws upward of 2.5 million visitors annually.

“We want to improve the aesthetics of the Shores,” Spano said. “In the long run, that will help everyone, the residents as well as the businesses.”

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