The Hake, owners' memories in tow, celebrates two years in La Jolla Cove
by KAI OLIVER-KURTIN
Published - 05/19/15 - 11:55 AM | 4781 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When Ricardo Dondisch and his local business partners were searching for a restaurant space in La Jolla Cove two years ago, they weren’t put off by The Hake Kitchen & Bar’s (then Aquamoree) lack of an ocean view — they were excited. Dondisch is a managing partner in a successful Mexico City restaurant group, Operadora Bajo de la Tintorera, and The Hake is the group’s first U.S. venture. The Hake, 1250 Prospect St., is located below street level and rather discreet, reminding the group of their first restaurant in Mexico City, called Puntarena.

The Hake’s namesake is a white fish found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans often seen on menus in Spain and throughout Europe. The seafood-centric restaurant has an “ocean-to-table” approach, says Dondisch, with Mediterranean flavors from Spain, the South of France and the Italian coast.

“We come from a place where we have to go to the market every morning in Mexico City,” said Dondisch “The only way we know to work is through fishmongers and farmers to get fresh ingredients.”

Their goal was to create a neighborhood eatery in La Jolla using many of the popular dishes from their menus in Mexico City. Their executive chefs were excited to develop new dishes using ingredients previously unavailable to them in Mexico. A year later, they were exporting dishes from The Hake to their restaurants south of the border.

Dondisch, a La Jolla resident in the Ridgegate community, still travels to Mexico City every few months. He says the first two years in business at The Hake have been full of learning experiences in cultural differences and American customs.

“We come from the land of the five-hour lunch,” said Dondisch, “so we’ve had to work out certain idiosyncrasies. In Mexico, we don’t bring out the check unless you ask for it—and Americans thought that was bad service.”

They've also had to learn more about wine and craft beer to be able to cater to La Jollans’ tastes, whereas their Mexican clientele prefer mixed cocktails. In exchange, they’ve been able to teach La Jolla patrons about tequilas and mezcals.

Accommodating special requests is customary at restaurants in Mexico City, says Dondisch, and The Hake is no different.

“We come from a place where that’s very normal,” he said.

To celebrate the restaurant’s second anniversary and give back to the La Jolla community, The Hake will hold a party in July to benefit Las Patronas, a philanthropic organization founded in La Jolla that raises money for nonprofits throughout San Diego.

The Hake serves lunches and dinners and offers outdoor seating options. Daily happy hour selections are available from 4 to 7 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. until close at the bar.

For more information, visit thehake.com.

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