Mister A’s to offer the popular weekend meal for first time in 48 years
By Morgan M. Hurley | SDUN Assistant Editor
Bertrand at Mister A’s started offering their own take on brunch this week, something the restaurant has never done in its 48 years of operation. Started Sunday, April 7, brunch is now available on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., consisting of a complete new menu and a whole new staff to support it.
“Brunch has become a huge thing all over the United States,” said Bertrand Hug, owner of Mister A’s and the Mille Fleurs French restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe. “It was time.”
Hug said he first approached Mister A’s original owner John Alessio in 1993 about purchasing the historic Bankers Hill rooftop property because the restaurant’s “perfect view” was always the first place he took out-of-town guests. “At that time, it was the cat’s meow,” Hug said.
Initially, Hug said Alessio had no interest in giving up a majority share, but eventually the two restauranteurs reached a verbal agreement. Unfortunately, it never made it to paper before Alessio passed away in 1998.
Next, Hug convinced the Alessio family, and in 2000 the sale was final. Hug said he then closed the restaurant for three months to refurbish the kitchen and redo the interior design of the dining room.
Since then, he uncovered all the floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as the views they offer. He also moved the bar to another wall, offering even more viewing options for customers and, more recently, opened the deck that surrounds the outside of the building for dining and drinks.
Another change Hug made in recent years was promoting floor manager Ryan Thorsen to general manager. A Bankers Hill resident, Thorsen is arguably the youngest general manager in the local industry.
“I feel confident about my staff. I’m really happy with Ryan, [and] the chef has a really solid staff in the kitchen,” Hug said.
Thorsen said he is happy with working for Bertrand, too. “Honestly there’s a lot of challenges to [working here]. It makes every day new and fast. And that challenge is what makes me want to get up for work and run in every day,” he said.
As manager, Thorsen said the restaurant has a “certain energy” not found in many San Diego establishments, in part because of its history. “Everyone comes here expecting a certain experience and it is our job to make sure that never falters,” he said.
Opening for brunch was a dream of Thorsen’s, and he is excited about the new venture. “It’s kind of like opening up our own little restaurant inside the restaurant because it’s never been here before,” he said.
Hug, Thorsen and Chef Stephane Voitzwinkler all worked together over several months on the food and drink menu, finally agreeing on the 20th draft. Menu options are a la carte, and vary from standard brunch classics with Voitzwinkler’s specific spin to the types of menu items one would come to expect at Mister A’s.
“You can piece together your own meal,” Thorsen said. “It’s a good entryway for new customers.”
A number of clever Bloody Marys and beer cocktails will be taking a prominent position on their new drink menu, along with other unique offerings. No bottomless mimosas, of course, but refills will be offered.
Thorsen said he encourages people spending their weekend days at Balboa Park to stop in for a drink or check out the new brunch. The weekend day dress code will be the same as their current lunch and happy hour: shorts only if they are Bermuda shorts, with closed-toed shoes. Flip-flops and baseball caps are never an option.
“We understand it is San Diego but we do want to maintain a certain status,” Thorsen said. “We think that builds the experience for everyone.”
Bertrand at Mister A’s is located on the 12th floor at 2550 Fifth Ave. In addition to the new weekend brunch hours, the restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. weeknights and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit bertrandatmisteras.com or call 619-239-1377.