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One of CH’s latest projects, Raised by Wolves in Westfield UTC La Jolla.

Pia Mayer, Staff Writer

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Paul Basile is an architect. Paul Basile is a designer. This version has been corrected.

Your favorite places in San Diego–Underbelly, Soda & Swine, The Neighborhood, are all underlings to San Diego’s prolific restaurant group and empire, Consortium Holdings.

With Arsalun Tafazoli at the helm, Consortium’s concepts have been the talk of the town with 13 eateries, bars, and even a barbershop. With a 6.5 million dollar steakhouse in the heart of Little Italy (Born & Raised), and a speakeasy in the center of Westfield UTC mall in La Jolla (Raised by Wolves), Tafazoli’s team has created a variety of unusual, cocktail-driven spots knowing that it’s exactly what San Diego needed.

The ketchup-less, vodka-less, television-less, restaurant empire, is not setting out to be San Diego’s next trendsetter but wants to create a dialogue in an already dynamic community. As said by their mission statement on their website, “We set out to create not restaurants and bars, but public gathering spaces that help cultivate our neighborhoods through the fostering of creativity.”

Each one of CH projects are dynamic in its own way. Paul Basile, the designer responsible for the majority of the CH projects, commonly referred to as the “brick and mortar guru” creates eclectic spaces that draw San Diegans into making reservations on OpenTable. Raised by Wolves, a speakeasy in the middle of Westfield UTC La Jolla, fronts as a unique liquor store in the French Nouveau architectural style. The liquor shop is stocked with spirits with price points from $20 to $20,000 for rarer bottles. The bar reservation holders, however, are transported through a rotating platform disguised as a chimney and into a bar in the back. The bar itself is a mysterious space with a custom circular bar and a marble fountain positioned in its center. Drinks start at $9 and go up to $790 for an old fashioned made with 1960s vintage Very Old Fitzgerald 8 Year Bourbon.

Born & Raised, one of CH’s most expensive projects, brought back a traditional fine dining experience with French roots that had died after the mid-twentieth century–tableside flambéing. In 1950s New York City, food and fire were a very big deal in the restaurant industry, and thanks to the bourgeois Little Italy steakhouse they have revived the old art, obviously abiding by the cities fire codes. Born & Raised is another one of Paul Basile’s projects, Basile told San Diego Magazine back in May of 2018 “it’s a throwback to the old 50s and 60s posh steakhouse–somewhere your grandfather would go to–but we kicked up the luxury.” The 10,000 square feet Art Deco restaurant is eye candy to San Diegans, which is something they aren’t usually used to. With waiters decked out in white tuxedos and converse sneakers, dining at Born & Raised guarantees you with a unique and memorable experience.

All of their locations follow the same concept–dimly lit joints, drawing from the 1970s to 1980s style, and sometimes even mimics the architectural style of icon Frank Lloyd Wright. Art and design are a huge part of Consortium’s aesthetic, but what’s even better is the food. Executive chef and partner of Consortium, Jason McLeod, earned two Michelin stars while working in Chicago and worked under Marco Pierre White, the godfather of modern cooking according to the Australian Masterchef. While working at Ironside Fish & Oyster, Chef Jason awaits at the docks at 5 in the morning daily to ride with fisherman Kelly Fukushima, according to an article by Life and Thyme. Ironside promotes and preserves San Diego’s local fishing community, not just by indulging in it but serving with it, and being a restaurant with no fish freezer, they have to catch new fish every day.

CH Projects is comprised of thirteen eclectic concepts–Craft and Commerce, False Idol, Ironside Fish & Oyster, El Dorado, Noble Experiment, Neighborhood, Polite Provisions, Born & Raised, Raised by Wolves, Please & Thank You Bar, The Dover Honing Co., Soda and Swine (two locations), Underbelly (two locations), and soon to be fourteen with the addition of Morning Glory, an all-day brunch concept opening up in the next couple of months in Little Italy.