Brooklyn Girl Eatery opens to much anticipation; owners gather inspiration from New York roots
By Sara Gilman | SDUN Reporter
Brooklyn Girl, the highly anticipated new restaurant venture of Michael and Victoria McGeath is now open for business, and all of San Diego seems to be in love. Located at 4033 Goldfinch St., this 100-seat establishment currently serves dinner seven nights a week and will soon open an adjacent to-go pantry, featuring healthy, fresh breakfast and lunch items.
The restaurant opened early May, and they have already received positive feedback. “We can’t even get our investors in for a seat,” Michael McGeath said. “We are averaging 200 people per night, and customers need to book reservations for the weekend at least a week in advance.”
Married for 21 years, the McGeath’s said they have the restaurant business to thank for bringing them together. They first met as employees at a local chain restaurant, and in 1989 Michael McGeath and several investors opened Fio’s Cucina Italiana in the Gaslamp Quarter, Downtown.
The couple got married a year later, marking the start of their journey in restaurant ownership. “If we didn’t work together, we would never be able to see each other,” Victoria McGeath said.
Michael McGeath’s passion for cooking started at a young age when he pushed his mother out of the kitchen in order to experiment with recipes, he said. “She didn’t mind. She wasn’t the greatest cook in the world and she appreciated my talent.”
His resume also dates back to his fraternity days at San Diego State University, where he was dubbed the house cook. Initially, Michael McGeath thought he wanted to study to be a District Attorney, he said, but with only one semester left at California Western School of Law, he dropped out to concentrate on the restaurant business. “I am a proud law school drop-out,” Michael said. “I decided it would be more fulfilling to work with happy customers, as opposed to dealing with criminals every day.”
How did his mother feel about his change of heart? “She said, ‘I will never use a lawyer, but will always want go to restaurants and eat for free,’” he said.
Together, the couple opened Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla, where it thrived as an Italian cuisine staple for 17 years. After the closing at the end of January, they decided to continue with their passion and open their dream restaurant.
“We didn’t know what it would be or where it would be located,” Michael McGeath said. “People thought we were nuts.” It took them six months and over 63 site visits in San Diego County to find the perfect spot, located in Mission Hills.
“As we were building, the whole neighborhood was watching,” Victoria McGeath said. It took a year and three months to complete Brooklyn Girl; several months longer than they expected to finish the project, they said.
“Mission Hills has truly embraced us, and we have become the ‘Cheers’ of the neighborhood,” she said.
The vision for the restaurant was a blend of the pair’s ideas, synchronized. Victoria McGeath is a third-generation New Yorker, from Brooklyn. She designed the look and feel of the restaurant. “The intention was a city loft-like feel, with feminine and warm touches,” she said. The high walls feature paintings of celebrities with a connection to the New York City borough, and the lighting above the bar resembles antique trolley tracks.
For the menu, Michael McGeath imagined that it feature only the best quality and most wholesome food, at a reasonable price. They source mostly local and organic food. “We use 16 different farms in San Diego County alone,” Michael McGeath said. “Daily, we pick only the best of the best.” With this approach, the menu changes with the seasons and what the local farms offer.
Executive Chef Tyler Thrasher – formerly of Downtown’s Oceanaire Seafood Room – was hired to lead the kitchen. The three went on a 30-restaurant tasting tour of Brooklyn to help with the development of the menu. “We got a real sense of the energy of the city,” Thrasher said. “It was a vibe we wanted to duplicate at the restaurant.”
Soon-to-be menu mainstays with direct ties to Brooklyn include the matzo ball soup, potato latkes and Brooklyn Girl Eatery’s own version of the Ebinger Baking Company’s famous all-chocolate blackout cake. Thrasher said he is also looking forward to the pantry opening, where the company will include many items, highlighting vegetarian and vegan lunch options with vibrant salads.