The Henry is coming to Coronado. And in talking with Sam Fox, the owner of the new restaurant at 1031 Orange Avenue, you get the feeling that once it’s open and you walk in, you’ll feel like you’re in a favorite neighborhood place, a la Cheers “Where everybody knows your name.”
Sam comes from a third-generation food and restaurant family and grew up in Tucson, AZ. He moved to Phoenix in 2000 and has split his time between there and Coronado for the last decade. He has owned over 100 restaurants since he dropped out of the University of Arizona at the age of 20, much to his parents’ dismay. His company, Fox Restaurant Concepts, founded in 1998, has sold some brands, such as True Food Kitchen, and now has about 60 restaurants in 12 states, including several in San Diego, i.e. Flower Child in Flower Hill Promenade in Del Mar Plaza, Blanco Tacos & Tequila and North Italia in San Diego’s Fashion Valley Mall. Fox is an eleven-time James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, a New York Times best-selling cookbook author, and was named one of the 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry for the fifth consecutive year by Nation’s Restaurant News.
Fox had originally tried to buy the block bordered by Orange Ave, 10th Street and C Avenue, but Kleege Enterprises won the bid, and then Bruce Kleege asked him to open a restaurant. He decided The Henry concept was a good fit for Coronado. The original Henry is in Phoenix below Fox Restaurant Concepts corporate offices, with other locations in West Hollywood and Dallas. “The ambiance diners will find at The Henry is ‘Post Modern Meets Ralph Lauren’,” says Fox, who came up with the style idea when he was remodeling his home.
The burning question for locals as they walk, bike or drive by is ‘When will The Henry be open?’ There’s major construction going on behind the scenes. “We originally hoped to be open in mid-May, but we have encountered some structural issues, which pushed our time frame out a month, so we are now hoping for a mid-June launch,” he answered.
The restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an outdoor patio that will seat 40-60 people and be self-seating in the mornings for coffee and breakfast. Guests will be able to work on their computers, have a meeting or just relax as they grab coffee or bite to eat. Breakfast will feature pastries, baked in-house, as well as smoothies, breakfast burritos, acai bowls, and Henry’s Irish oats, with weekend brunch. Lunch offerings include soup, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of entrees. Dinner specials will be an array of fish, chicken, steak, and pasta entrees, and many more selections including a harvest bowl and mushroom paella. A kid’s menu will also be available. His team of chefs plans to work with local purveyors for produce, fish and meats.
Each Henry restaurant is unique to its neighborhood. Fox said that Coronado will feature more seafood to reflect the close proximity to the beach. There will be communal tables in the bar and patio. His goal is for the chefs and other employees to get to know the locals. An exhibition kitchen will help connect diners to the staff and food. The patio will have an indoor/outdoor bar featuring cocktails, beer and wine with an outdoor fireplace. The restaurant will also feature a private dining room for 40 people.
When asked what he looks for in his employees, Fox answered, “We hire friendly people who understand hospitality, and are humble, quick with a smile, and have a thirst for knowledge. We offer a comprehensive training program for our employees.”
“I like to spend time in my restaurants every day,” Fox commented. In fact, he likes to be involved in all aspects of development and design, down to the art, food, uniforms, and even selecting the leather for the booths. Pizza is his personal favorite cuisine and he has a weakness for the Pig Pizza at his North Italia restaurants. At The Henry, his favorite dish is the Korean Skirt Steak and his cocktails of choice are the Drunken Panda and Wake the Angels. Just the names make you want to try them.
Fox noted that he and his family enjoy all the local Coronado restaurants and he is looking forward to giving people here a look at what they do, “We are striving for an elevated design with attention to every detail. The Coronado Henry will have a clean coastal vibe with big comfortable booths.” Opening The Henry in Coronado gives him the perfect excuse to spend even more time here, especially as his children are getting older.