New Johnston’s Restaurant & Bar in University Heights

ELE Collective Opens Johnston’s Neighborhood Restaurant and Bar in The Heart of University Heights

San Diego’s ELE Collective, which previously owned Park & Rec and Waypoint Public, has added another feather to its cap with the launch of Johnston’s restaurant and bar in University Heights. Located at 4628 Park Boulevard, the neighborhood eatery pays homage to San Diego’s rich history by renovating an original 1920s five-and-dime store, Johnston’s Variety Deptartment Store. The restaurant’s restoration and preservation of the storefront, complete with the original 100-year-old sign, is a testament to its commitment to the local community and heritage.

Johnston’s has quickly become a community hotspot, drawing locals and visitors alike who are drawn to its inviting atmosphere and delicious food. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a leisurely evening out, Johnston’s is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy San Diego’s unique history and hospitality.

FOOD | The Young Gun, Executive Chef Peter Ziegler

The dining room and bar of Johnston’s exude an effervescence that extends to the streetside patio. The food is equally charming, with Executive Chef Peter Ziegler, a 29-year-old San Diego native, at the helm. Chef Ziegler, who previously served as executive chef of Pearl Hotel’s Charles + Dinorah and Wolfie’s Carousel Bar, is a rising star in the culinary world. He draws on global influences to create warm and welcoming menus, featuring dishes like the braised mojo pork Cubano, smash burger with two wagyu patties, and rotating trio of yakitori sticks cooked over a binchotan charcoal grill.

Johnston’s menu also features shareables like hummus with housemade za’atar naan and health-forward options like the seasonally-inspired market salad, currently served on a bed of baby gem lettuce with pickled red onions, pomegranate, crispy quinoa, and a tahini vinaigrette. These dishes are sure to become cult favorites, thanks to Chef Ziegler’s careful attention to flavor and presentation.

BEVERAGE | A Dynamic Duo, Sonnie Smith & James Gomez

Johnston’s leverages the influence of its neighboring establishment, Park & Rec, to offer a creative menu of classic cocktails with a twist. The menu features time-inspired glassware, house infusions, and cocktail names that reflect the history of the surrounding area. Leading the bar team are James Gomez, a certified cicerone with extensive experience in the beverage industry, and Sonnie Smith, who has worked at Park & Rec and Waypoint Public. They offer their four decades of combined experience to reimagine popular drinks such as the MC Gardens margarita made with ube-infused tequila, the dragon berry-infused Clare Rose, a classic sour with a tiki focus, and the Alonzo Horton, which features housemade kalua whip over a horchata vodka and Dark Horse cold brew cocktail. In addition to a curated wine list featuring a dozen or so organic wines, Johnston’s takes pride in its rotating tap and bottle list, curated by Adam Assad of Waypoint Public.

More Information at Johnston’s Restaurant & Bar

Johnston’s is located at 4628 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92116. Johnston’s now opens doors at 3 p.m. daily, with happy hour specials running Monday to Friday from 3 to 5 p.m.. A weekend brunch menu will debut by early April. For more information and hours of operation, please visit, call Johnston’s at (619) 546-9187, and follow along on Instagram @johnstonsbar

Photo credits: All images are courtesy of H2 Public Relations.


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