With fond memories of sharing his dad and mom’s home cooked meals around the family dinner table, Tim Aaron didn’t set out to be in the restaurant business, but rather came to it in a roundabout way. He has always had a love of good cuisine, especially comfort food. In 2009, he was working as a real estate developer and often went across the street from his office for lunch at the original Nicky Rotten’s in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. One day, the owner asked him if he wanted to partner on a new location in Coronado. He bought the building and ended up being the sole owner within a few months after opening. With a passion for creating the best in whatever he does, but not knowing the restaurant industry, Tim learned by jumping on the fry line and everywhere else to learn every aspect of the business. The restaurant was a success from the start, with locals and tourists crowding into the bar, watching sporting events, and enjoying good food. He ended up selling the business in 2016, when he received an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Fast forward to the pandemic, and in his boredom Tim decided he wanted Nicky Rotten’s back, so he emailed the previous owner in the middle of the night and asked to buy it. Just a few weeks later, on March 1, he took over again with renewed gusto. “After six years, I promise to bring back what people loved on our original menu, only bigger and better, with the addition of some amazing new items. My goal is to create memorable comfort food,” he says.
He and his team have been hard at work revamping the menu and giving the space an updated feel with new bar tops, floors, wall murals, a video wall, a black oak wood accent wall, an LED lighted liquor cabinet and much more.
The bathrooms are fun and playful, starting with the doors which are labeled “Stand” and “Sit.” From gumballs, to murals, to slogans, they are Instagram photo worthy and a must see.
One of my all-time favorite foods, tater tots, will be back in three flavors, with a variety of dipping sauces. I was lucky enough get to sample some of the menu offerings. The Bad Ass chicken sandwich, with jalapeno honey sauce, is enormous and chock full of flavor with perfectly crispy chicken. Past menu favorites include hand crafted burgers, of which the new menu includes 14 choices, fish tacos, and French fries, and Tim promises they will all be tastier than ever.
Tim has cut some of the menu prices, like on the favorite Rotten Burger, which will be more enormous than before. For the very hungry, the Burger Challenge will be back. Salads will be a menu staple, with some old favorites and some innovative new choices. He is proud of the new melt in your mouth croutons that will be made in-house. Expect to have a choice of a Cobb salad, a unique wedge, an avocado toast tossed salad and more. There will be a selection of six homemade dressings from which to choose. Don’t forget about the Rotten Nachos, which appear a mile high, and the wings with just the right kick.
When asked his personal favorite food, he hesitated because he enjoys it all, but decided on steak, and the restaurant will feature a giant rib eye steak, along with a New York steak topped with peppercorn sauce, paired with a decadently topped baked potato and salad. There is no doubt he is enthused about every aspect of coming back to Nicky Rottens and serving the very best food. He raves about the new featured banana butter cake dessert filled with love.
Brunch will feature freshly griddled skillets, with names like Crime Scene, the Hangover (which is divinely loaded with rosemary potatoes, homemade chorizo, bacon, salsa fresca, sour cream and queso sauce), and No Meat Here for vegetarians, which I would describe as guiltily healthy with rosemary potatoes, bell peppers, onions, Portobello mushrooms, and spinach mixed with hollandaise sauce. Waffles, as well as steak and eggs and a host of other breakfast delicacies, including delicious avocado toast will also be available. Watch for daily theme specials to be announced, like Taco Tuesday.
Look for the bar to be abundantly stocked with an extensive selection of tequilas, vodkas, wine, a variety of beers including local and Guinness, which is used in some of the house recipes, and everything else imaginable in the way of libations, including the popular Moscow mule. A new highlight will be the “all you can drink” Bloody Mary cart featured during Saturday and Sunday brunch. Champagne by the bottle will be available with a variety of juice selections.
Tim is a big supporter of the military and is used to having many uniformed personnel and Navy SEALs in for lunch and dinner. “I can’t wait to get them back,” he comments. All the UFC fights and major sporting events will be shown on the video wall, ceiling screens, and multiple televisions for sports fans. As restrictions are lifted, he will consider bringing back events and fundraisers, like were popular previously. Don’t forget about the Happy Hour specials from 3 pm to 6 pm, with $6 drafts, $5 well cocktails and house wines, and a variety of $8 appetizers, including garlic breath fries and the ever popular tater tots.
When asked what he missed most about stepping away, he didn’t hesitate when he answered, “The people and food collaboration. I’m most excited about having people here to serve good food to.” He is delighted to have six of his original employees working with him again and is currently hiring additional staff. His wife Carla works behind the scenes with all the administrative details, and daughters Ashley and Alexis will be learning the ropes from cleaning to hostessing. It’s evident he has put his whole heart into Nicky Rottens again and has been involved in every detail down to the menus and silverware.
The wait is over, Tim held a soft opening on May 17. Regulars had been dismayed that the restaurant was closed since last fall, but now Tim is waiting to welcome back both old and new customers to the revamped and revived Nicky Rottens Bar and Burger Joint. Located at 100 Orange Avenue, it looks out across Centennial Park and towards the bay.
Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint
100 Orange Ave · Coronado
For more mouth watering food photos, courtesy of Arlene Collection: