Wear your flip flops and enjoy food meant especially for beach attire at the new The Islander restaurant set to take over the space formerly occupied by Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge at 1015 Orange Ave. The name The Islander fits for Coronado High School Islander grad David Spatafore, who met his wife Jenni at CHS; and their children are also Islanders. Speaking about the latest concept for Blue Bridge Hospitality, Principal of BBH Spatafore says that after ten years of running Leroy’s, it was time for a change. When Leroy’s opened it was a unique concept that was new to the neighborhood, focusing on seasonal dishes with locally sourced meat and produce. Limited outdoor seating availability made it difficult during COVID, so it briefly pivoted to Leroy’s Roadside Refresher for burgers, fries and salad take out, but he decided a new direction was needed. “The pandemic shutdown has given us time for self-reflection about where we are today, with the evolving neighborhood, and we decided it was time for an update, not a Leroy’s 2.0, but a completely different idea that differentiates us in the market,” he says.
“With The Islander, we are focusing on providing a fun dining and bar experience, which is especially important as people are coming out of hibernation,” he comments. Spatafore reports that all the structural elements are already in place, but there will be major updates in finishes, giving the space an island feel. The seating will remain the same at 120 capacity but will seem more spacious with the new bi-folding La Cantina doors across the entire front of the restaurant. He is also in the process of hiring all new staff, as many people have moved away.
With a love of travel and good food, he wants the menu to reflect an array of Pacific Ocean food from surf hubs like Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, and of course Southern California. Never fear, the amazing burger is poised to reappear on the new menu, along with the popular poke tacos. Spatafore says his chefs are currently working on fine-tuning the food, for which he always gives input. “Things are still in pencil, not pen yet,” he notes. One of the biggest changes will be breakfast served every day from 8 am to 2 pm. Spatafore adds, “Before, Leroy’s was known for our weekend French toast brunch, but now we will be offering a variety of pancakes daily.”
Expect to see a surfboard motif with retro furniture, including orange vinyl bar stools, outdoor teal chairs with dark woodwork, teal Bahama shutters, light acacia wood floors and a giant mahogany longboard bar top. The bar has been tripled in size and will move away from serving craft cocktails and feature more flip-flop and boat related drinks. Rest assured, the 16 beers will still be on tap. An updated sound system will play island music, with the familiar Ipe wood exterior trim remaining. Expecting more demand than seating capacity during peak times, The Islander will feature a beach hut out front for a “to go” window for quick casual service, where guests can take away food to eat at the beach, bay, in the grassy medians, at home, or elsewhere.
As restrictions continue to lessen, Spatafore points out that all of the Blue Bridge Hospitality restaurants have been in survival mode during the pandemic, hobbling along with takeout and limited seating. The oldest establishment in the group, MooTime Creamery, which opened in 1998, has found that both locals and tourists can always use an ice cream treat to brighten their day. Village Pizzeria, which opened in 2002, has a menu that lends itself to take out. Spatafore thanks his neighboring businesses at Little Frenchies for allowing them to extend their outdoor seating, which has been a game changer for serving additional customers. He points out that the concept of food and games at Beach Boardwalk isn’t conducive to reopen, even after the pandemic is over, so he is hoping to explore other options with the building owner. As things are opening up, Stake has been able to pivot, by shifting their bar downstairs and opening up additional patio seating. He has discovered that people are ready to go out to be pampered and enjoy fine dining.
The opening target for The Islander, located at 1015 Orange Avenue, is by July 4, and Spatafore and his team can’t wait to share the fun and food with Coronado.
Memories…. For a peek back in time, check out these two articles from 2011 when Beach n Diner closed and Leroy’s (and others) were set to open. Some of the links aren’t valid, but it’s still fun to reminisce. Do you remember?