Along with his San Diego and Mexico City based teams, managing partner Ricardo Dondisch recently unveiled the results of an extensive renovation on highly regarded San Diego restaurant, The Hake. Nearly ten months in the making, the neighborhood eatery debuted its newly remodeled space, which includes panoramic ocean views and a new 1200-square foot kitchen, in the heart of downtown La Jolla, California. General Manager Dan Valerino worked closely with Southern California Restaurant Design Group design and contract administrator Julian Hobbs on the kitchen remodel and install, which saw the existing footprint of the restaurant and kitchen space nearly double. They recently sat down with Chef’s Roll to discuss the project.

SCRDG: Julian Hobbs

For Julian, the most challenging part of the project was working within a semi-existing space: “Remodels always pose challenges, but Dan, The Hake team and our contractors, Jaime Partners of San Diego, were very knowledgeable and always there to answer questions. The Hake was a great project to work on and the end result was an extremely nice looking space”.

How did you first hear about SCRDG?

I found a flyer in my mailbox with pricing listed at considerably less compared to other companies we had received bids from. We then met with SCRDG owner Mike Benson who really made sure we had everything needed to move forward with the remodel and planned kitchen operations for a restaurant of this scale.

How was the process of working with SCRDG?

We worked closely with Mike and Julian Hobbs who were very amenable, especially when we got to the install phase. We discussed what we needed for the kitchen and they allocated items – line item by line item – taking the time to figure out the best value on each acquisition. SCRDG’s patience and making sure that we had everything we were looking for was key. When we asked for advice they came in with extremely educated information, which helped save us money.

What factors influenced the design criteria of the kitchen?

The project has been a battle of love and attrition. It was a full remodel and gut down to the floorboards, which doubled the size of the existing kitchen footprint and augmented space behind the bar for storage and dry goods. When it came to kitchen equipment we told SCRDG that we weren’t looking for Ferraris but Toyotas, and they delivered.

How and where was SCRDG able to save money on the install?

Value engineering of all the equipment.

What did you consider the most challenging aspect to the project?

We closed doors the last week of January and re-opened in late fall; our official opening day was October 12 so for that kind of time frame everything had its own unique challenges. It was tough not having the restaurant in service for such a long period of time, but thanks to SCRDG in terms of the actual build-out, the kitchen design was one of the easiest aspects of the entire ten-month process.

What was the highlight of working with SCRDG?

The way they accommodated us as a client. Other companies we worked with had their own priorities, but SCRDG was willing to work with The Hake’s vision. They go to work for you, which was the most refreshing thing about how they approached the project.

A well-designed commercial kitchen is integral to efficient, safe and profitable food preparation – the least steps required to complete a task, the better.


Southern California Restaurant Design Group has worked with countless chefs and restauranteurs to design and oversee commercial kitchen remodels and installs. From accommodating food storage and preparation of ingredients to plating, dish washing and trash removal areas, here are SCRDG’s top tips to consider when contemplating commercial kitchen design:

• Commercial kitchen design plans are dictated by space requirements, equipment & budget.
Careful, considered planning in the design of the kitchen will save money & time during the construction phase & increase profitability over the life of the kitchen.
 Efficient ergonomics will be appreciated by the owner, chef & kitchen workers.

SCRDG kitchen remodel and outfit at The Hake in La Jolla, Ca.
SCRDG kitchen remodel and outfit at The Hake in La Jolla, Ca.
SCRDG kitchen remodel and outfit at The Hake in La Jolla, Ca.

The Hake is located at 1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037. Please visit or call (858) 454-1637 for more information.

Photography by Sergey Kolivayko/Field Guide.