A grand orchid planted in Little Italy
by Mariko Lamb
Nov 04, 2011 | 763 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Craft & Commerce, 675 W. Beech St., won the Grand Orchid award during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Orchids and Onions awards. Photo courtesy Amy K. Fellows
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Craft & Commerce, a newcomer to Little Italy, has garnered rousing support for its architecture, adaptive re-use and interior design, earning the restaurant the esteemed 2011 Grand Orchid from this year’s 2011 Orchids and Onions awards ceremony — a fundraising program hosted by the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

This year’s biggest nod went to the eatery located at 675 W. Beech St. for a spot that jurors named “idea-driven, yet basic.”

Some of the restaurant’s simple, yet imaginative design concepts include written passages from John Steinbeck and David Foster Wallace scribbled across the pub’s walls and seats, stacks upon stacks of vintage hardcover novels, oversized glass doors with Ford Model T steering wheels for handles and a unique fusion of materials, including wooden planks on the ceiling, red bricks on the walls and aluminum encompassing the center bar.

Grant Barrett, the awards ceremony’s emcee, explained the jurors’ decision at the event on Oct. 27.

“During deliberations for the 2011 Grand Orchid, the jury was taken with one particular project, where they were all in agreement that the space had actually transcended the design,” he said. “They felt strongly that Craft & Commerce — this accessible, adaptive re-use project in Little Italy — had been carefully designed and masterfully executed to create a truly exceptional experience.”

One juror noted there seems to be a hidden personal story that owners Nate Stanton and Arsalun Tafazoli and designer Paul Basile seem to unravel about the genesis of the restaurant.

“Having doubled in size since its opening in August of 2010, it has provided the impetus to stimulate a sleepy corner into a stimulating destination,” Barrett said on behalf of the jury. “Craft & Commerce demonstrates how the design dialogue opens minds and doors, and blooms. It shines through as a unique and inspirational property and a welcome and daring addition to San Diego’s design landscape.”

Craft & Commerce is open every day for lunch, dinner and drinks from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

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