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When Universal first opened doors summer 2008, the flashy club shined a hopeful light on the Hillcrest nightlife scene. While this diverse neighborhood is popping with eclectic bars and lounges, such as the thriving Rich’s and Numbers, no downtown-worthy mega-club had ever before hit the uptown area.
Universal was the first Hillcrest venue envisioned by EnDev – the collective brains behind Stingaree and the original Side Bar – and many locals wondered if the “Gayborhood” was ready for a swanky nightclub of this magnitude. Though vibrant and oozing with potential, Universal and its restaurant Dish had the unfortunate timing of opening just as the local community took a hard economic hit and soon closed doors for good in early 2010.
Was the elaborate peacock-feather and snakeskin décor the wrong pairing for Dish’s pricy Mediterranean menu? Was Universal’s opulent bottle service club format too much for bar-loving locals to swallow? While we can forever guess at what ultimately led to the downfall, I suggest we switch our focus to something a bit more positive: the rise of a new light now shining bright on University Avenue.
Slated to open early December, 2010, EDEN is the fresh new club and restaurant from Scotty Wagner of ChileCo (pictured) and David Laurent of NightlifeSD and Side Bar. These two industry pros bring a wealth of knowledge from the dining and nightlife industries and are returning to the simple, natural basics when breathing new life into this 15,000 square-foot entertainment complex.
Scotty Wagner was first approached by James Brennan of EnDev who asked him to get involved in the original Universal-Dish concept. Brennan sought out Wagner because he is not only the owner of one of San Diego’s most popular and successful catering companies, ChileCo, he is also a well-known celebrity chef in Hollywood, often catering private parties for Matthew McConaughey, Sharon Stone, James Earl Jones, Mariah Carey and Steven Baldwin, among many other high-profile clients. His undeniable talent mixed with a strong following in the gay community – not to mention his bubbly charm and good looks! – seemed to be just what Dish craved.
When Wagner looked deeper, he decided the Universal-Dish space would be the perfect venue for his own first restaurant and club concept. Soon after, Wagner was connected with David Laurent – principal owner of the new Side Bar under NightlifeSD – and together Wagner and Laurent purchased and planned to reinvent the iconic Hillcrest corner.
EDEN boasts a spacious nightclub, cool outdoor lounge, and intimate dining room, as well as the new home of ChileCo Bistro & Catering - serving creative comfort cuisine. First things first: there will be no pink at EDEN! The brilliant club shades and intricate designs that once overpowered Universal have all been replaced with natural hues and organic textures, including an abundance of plush trees and pure candlelight. The club will offer an advanced mixologist station, yet you won’t find traditional bottle service anywhere in sight. Rather than designated VIP tables and roped off areas, EDEN will be a wide-open space where patrons are invited to find paradise where vanity is lost. To further increase the openness, the walls between the outdoor lounge and club will be torn down to better facilitate the flow.
Get ready for a high-energy lineup of weekly entertainment, ranging from top San Diego DJs spinning everything from hip hop to retro classics and house hits every Friday and Saturday night, to Brady Brunch Sundays with 1970s-beats followed Boys BBQ Sunday nights with 1980s jams rocking into the late night. More rotating weekly events will include Blues & Booze Wednesdays and exotic Adam & Eve Thursdays.
The all new EDEN in San Diego will be a place of pure harmony – a place where people from all walks of life can join together to experience a taste of true utopia free from any assumptions. EDEN checks cultural stigmas at the door and only asks you to be your true, real self while having the time of your life. Starting December, 2010 EDEN will be the Hillcrest neighborhood restaurant and club concept where you will always feel comfortable and will always be in great company. And starting mid October, 2010 you can check out the all new ChileCo Café & Catering for creative fine cuisine in a casual street-side atmosphere and all your special occasion catering needs.
Don’t Miss Out: Become a DiscoverSD Insider now to be first to know of San Diego EDEN Grand Opening events and to learn all about the top secret EDEN menus by co-owner and chef Scotty Wagner.
For more info about Scotty Wagner’s San Diego catering company, please visit chilecocatering.com.
Pictured: ChileCo private parties with photos by resolusean.com.
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