“The bar is now indoor-outdoor,” said Mina Desiderio of the surf-themed restaurant at 5083 Santa Monica Ave., which had a soft reopening March 15 after six months of remodeling.
Desiderio, the owner of Wonderland Ocean Pub upstairs from OB Surf Lodge, along with business partners Brendan Huffman and Hoffman Leung, now operate the re-imagined Ocean Beach eatery.
“The whole restaurant opens up now, where before they had just windows,” said Desiderio. “So now, on really nice days, we can open up all the windows and let the outdoors in.”
Desiderio said extension of the restaurant's outdoor patio, a work in progress delayed by seasonal rains, will increase the restaurant's seating capacity from 140 to 186.
And expect Shades' longstanding tradition of community activism to continue.
“Our relationship with Dave Martin (former Shades owner) and his family, and their legacy, is really important to us,” said Desiderio. “We've taken on a lot of their traditions, helping out in the community, giving back.”
Desiderio said one thing Shades was best known for was its canine pet adoptions.
“We're putting on four of those a year,” she said. “We're preserving the value of Shades, but we're doing it in a new way with our style.”
Expect more than just a shade of the former place to remain in the Surf Lodge. But don't expect business as usual.
“It's quite different,” said Desidrio of the beach bistro's fresh ambiance.
Desiderio pointed out the new ownership group “can't replicate something we didn't create. We're a different style of operation, ownership. We do what we know.”
Desiderio noted the new and improved Surf Lodge is “brunch heavy.”
And there have been major cuisine updates too.
“We're using a lot of organic, high-quality meats, fresh-squeezing our own orange juice, serving organic coffees, and we have an excellent draft list of craft brews,” Desiderio said. “We're also doing kumbucha on tap, coffee on nitro, which is really the way to drink coffee.”
Desiderio said the menu is moving on from foods that are frozen, processed or pre-made. A case in point on the retooled menu is homemade biscuits.
“We're baking them fresh daily,” said Desiderio, adding the menu will allow guests to sample a wide variety of new items including baked eggs, shrimp and grits, lumped crab, okra, fresh fish and coconut braised pork.
“We're calling our cuisine California comfort,” Desiderio added.
The popular restaurant Shades was co-owned and operated previously by Martin and his son-in-law, Jeff Levitt, for more than 13 years. The Martins and Levitts told their employees at the end of April 2016 they had sold the restaurant, which closed after Labor Day. Not one Shades employee left after it was announced the restaurant was sold and staff would be kept on by the new management.
In an interview with the Beacon before Shades closed, Levitt confessed leaving was “real emotional” with customers telling them, 'I took my wife on our first date here,' or 'Whenever our relatives are in town, this is the first place we go.'
“That made it very difficult but very gratifying,” Levitt concluded.
OB Surf Lodge
Where: 5083 Santa Monica Ave., Suite 1F
Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily