“We’re trying to preserve and pay homage to a piece of PB history, while updating, adapting it to right now,” said Ben Palmer, longtime general manager of the restaurant. “These bars are kind of the last of a dying breed.”
Noting there’s “a little bit of gentrification going on in PB,” Palmer said, “We’re bringing something you’re not going to get down at the beach.”
The popular establishment at 4612 Cass St. was purchased a couple years ago by John Rudolph of La Jolla, who also owns iconic Harry’s Coffee Shop founded by his parents in 1960 on Girard Avenue, as well as Mike’s Taco Club in Ocean Beach.
Cass Street celebrated its second anniversary under Rudolph’s ownership and management March 23. Rudolph took over for Mike Campagna and his wife, who’d owned Cass Street since 1996. Rudolph is the third owner of the pub that opened in 1984 and holds one of PB’s oldest liquor licenses.
What makes the restaurant-bar good now, is what’s always made it attractive. “A big part of our reputation revolves around our food,” said Palmer.
Cuisine at Cass Street serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily is definitely not traditional bar fare. For example, very little, other than French fries, is fried.
“It’s American with a Mexican twist,” said Palmer, noting head chef Alfredo has been there for years in the kitchen, which opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m.
“The oriental salad is the one (item) you’ll hear talked about all around,” Palmer said of the menu. “We’re also known for our baguette sandwiches. The cool thing about us is everything’s made to order in-house, including all the sauces and dressings.”
Authentic Mexican breakfasts are served with homemade chilaquiles and tomatillo sauce. “Alfredo’s recipe is to die for,” said Palmer, adding the “oriental salad is probably the most popular dish with the teriyaki-marinated steak baguette with onions a close second.”
All Cass Street bread comes from French Gourmet. “It’s delivered fresh daily every single morning,” Palmer said.
Pointing to a huge mural of fishing photos adorning the entire back wall, Palmer noted, “It’s definitely a piece of PB history, this place has always been a fishing hang with lots of regulars who still come in.”
Palmer praised Rudolph for polishing Cass Street’s image rather than trying to alter it.
“John could have torn the whole thing down and done something differently, but he didn’t,” Palmer said. This is a passion project for him. He repainted the outside making it look fresher and brighter, put up new hanging signs. We’ve tried to update a little bit, but did not try to make it too fancy.”
Cass Street has a homier feel then you’ll find most anywhere else. “A lot of places are turn and burn; you’ll hardly get a ‘thank you’ or a ‘nice to see you,’ ” Palmer said. “Everyone knows each other’s names here. It’s like Cheers.”
Cass Street Bar & Grill
4612 Cass St.
Hours: Mondays-Fridays 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays 9:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.