There’s been a buzz at the corner of Wall Street and Girard for quite awhile now. First, Jack’s La Jolla abruptly closed in July 2009, amid rumors of tax liens. Then, this past year, Mike Viscuso, well known for developing nightlife venues, decided to begin development on Mike’s La Jolla in the same space. Every season since then, the opening date for Mike’s La Jolla has been moved back. The latest rumors swirling around the community are that Mike’s La Jolla is not moving forward and the entire property is up for lease or sublease.
In an exclusive interview with La Jolla Patch at the end of January, Viscuso said that development plans were moving forward. However, since the project termination rumors began, La Jolla Patch has made multiple attempts over several weeks to contact Viscuso and his company, Visco Venues, without response.
Viscuso signed a 10-year lease for the 20,000-square-foot, multilevel property known as Wall Street Plaza (7863 to 7877 Girard Avenue). The lease, which includes free rent, was finalized in July 2010.
The goal was to invest up to $3 million to renovate the property and bring 300 new jobs to La Jolla. Viscuso said he believed that Mike’s La Jolla would be a “huge asset” for the La Jolla business community, and he predicted that it would draw thousands of people to the area on a weekly basis.
Visco Venues relocated its headquarters from downtown San Diego to the third floor of the same La Jolla building last year, and the company’s venues include Belo, Deco’s, On Broadway Event Center and the new Boudoir.
But Viscuso always planned for multiple tenants at Wall Street Plaza. At the time of the interview, he reported that Panera Bakery along with a few other retail stores were negotiating leases in the building.
According to the current Cushman & Wakefield listing, space is immediately available on the first and second floors, with Mike’s La Jolla and the Visco Venues offices occupying the second and third floors. Calls to the listing agents and other members of the Cushman & Wakefield team were not returned by deadline.
“Mike’s La Jolla will implement multiple concepts that will appeal to a variety of markets, all under one roof,” Viscuso had said. According to Viscuso, the venue, scheduled to be open seven days a week, will feature three casual dining concepts and three entertainment concepts. In January, Viscuso stated he was currently in talks with a few chefs, and the menus were in development.
Prices for the street-level concepts are designed to be affordable, one with an average check of $6 to $7 and another dining concept with lunch around $10 to $15 and dinner between $15 to $20. Additionally, the plans for the venue feature seven bar areas, along with dance floors, indoor cabanas, VIP bottle service and outdoor fire pits.
A resident of the La Jolla community since 1992, Viscuso has a long history in the nightlife industry, including acting as the food and beverage director for the Westin Hotel in Dallas, developing the dining and entertainment concepts for Radisson hotels and opening San Diego’s first downtown nightclub, E Street Alley. Visco Venues currently owns and operates The Kress in Hollywood as well.
“I am happy just about any time a business moves into an empty space in La Jolla,” said Pamela Kennedy-Buck, a La Jolla resident for the past 22 years. “The closing of Jack’s La Jolla left a large void in the heart of town, from both the loss of dining experiences to the huge, empty building.”
However, Kennedy-Buck does not believe the high-end bottle service proposed for Mike’s La Jolla would last long. Living just a few blocks from the venue, she noted that La Jolla is not a late-night area, with most businesses closing by 11 p.m. regardless of the day of the week.
“A friend of mine summed it up pretty well—she said that one nightclub does not make a nightlife scene,” she said.
In response to those who question whether La Jolla can sustain a high-end nightlife venue, Viscuso pointed out that “life is a risk.” He added, “We try to design, develop, project and adjust to the economy so that we can hedge the current conditions.”
Kennedy-Buck noted that most of her friends and neighbors were eager for Mike’s La Jolla to open and were only disappointed by its postponement.
In response to the similarities between the two namesake moniker venues, past and proposed future, Viscuso told La Jolla Patch: “Mike’s La Jolla will be different than Jack’s [La Jolla] in too many ways to mention. All I have to say is to come and visit the venue and decide for yourself what the differences are. I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.”
No confirmation yet on when, or if, Mike’s La Jolla will open for La Jollans to verify Viscuso’s claim.