In 1989, owner Oved Haskal set up shop in the retail space, which previously was a car parts store.
What Haskal created early-on, which persists to today, is, in general manager Geoffrey Harris’ view, “a place where people can have fun, eat and play pool and other games.”
Gaming at Society, besides pool, includes shuffleboard, ping-pong and foosball.
Harris said Society is actually three businesses rolled into one now.
“It’s a sports bar, restaurant and gaming location,” he said, noting remodels over the years, including the current one, are raising the bar taking Society to a higher level.
Haskal and Harris are two years into remodeling, rebranding and transforming the establishment, now that it has a brand-new full-service kitchen, into more of an upscale eatery with broader appeal.
An Israeli native who came to San Diego from New York, Haskal said people doubted him initially when he told them he was creating “an upscale pool hall.”
“How much would you charge to play pool for an hour?” people would ask Haskal. He replied, “$10 an hour.”
They would predict, “You’re going to go out of business in a few weeks.”
“I’ve been here more than 30 years now,” Haskal pointed out.
The longevity of Society is a testament to the sports bar-restaurant’s business acumen and success.
“I don’t know of any other business in PB that’s been around as long with the same name (and ownership),” said Haskel. “Maybe Cass Street (which recently sold).”
Is it more difficult to be in business today than it was 30 years ago?
“Not for us, we’re unique,” said Haskel.
“There’s definitely more competition out there,” noted Harris, adding, Society is a community-based, local-oriented business with a twist on your typical beach establishment.
“We have a niche,” he said. “It’s not your typical PB place. We pride ourselves on Society being a comfortable place – whether you’re 21 or 81. We have guys who come in here who’ve been playing pool here for 20 years. And then Friday and Saturday nights, we’ve got the young people who are out there and want to come into a place that’s hot. But we’re not your typical packed PB place. We wanted Society to be a place where you can come in with a date, or you can come in and have a party and a fun time.”
Haskal said Society can host parties for all special occasions whether it be a corporate get-together or a birthday or bachelor party.
“We’re doing holiday parties for other bars and restaurants,” said Harris.
Haskal said, if you come into Society now, you’ll be surprised at how family oriented it’s become.
“Come in on the weekend and you’ll see families with kids eating breakfast,” he said. “We cater to any age group.”
Harris described Society PB’s new menu as “Elevated California cuisine with a little Mediterranean flair to it. Everything we do is top quality and handmade. We make sure our food is made to high specifications.
“We have quality burgers and pizzas,” continued Harris. “But we also have chicken Shawarma, hummus plates, baba ghanoush. We have a nice meat-and -cheese plate and some pasta options. Our brunch menu is more classic American: eggs Benedict, French toast, crepes, scrambles, and paninis and wraps for that lunch crossover.”
Society is open weekdays from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., Harris said, noting the eatery is open Fridays and Saturdays for breakfast-brunch starting at 9:30 a.m. He said they have a late-night, scaled-down menu served between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. “We always have food until 1 a.m.,” he added.
“Our full menu we serve till 11 p.m.,” Haskal said.
Two years ago Society expanded its main bar in a major way adding large-screen TVs, ping-pong and shuffleboard, as well as the kitchen expansion, which opened about a month ago.
“The final phase, we are going to redo the front, some seating in the middle with more restaurant-style bench seating and a big-screen TV,” said Harris. “We’re just not about modernizing, but keeping it simple and accessible. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.
“What we want to do is create a place where anybody can be comfortable, come in, have a good time, get a good meal, be entertained, have good service and enjoy themselves. A place that I would like to come, a place where we’d like you to come. That’s what we want to be, and that’s what we already are.”
Where: 1051 Garnet Ave.