This month, Nine-Ten Restaurant celebrates two decades as one of San Diego’s pioneer farm-to-table restaurants. The community is invited to enjoy throwback pricing and menus, and other dining specials for the week leading up to the restaurant’s official 20th anniversary on July 17. “It’s wonderful to reflect on San Diego’s culinary scene and how it has changed over the years,” says nationally acclaimed Executive Chef Jason Knibb, who has led Nine-Ten’s culinary team since October 2003. “I humbly thank the staff and community for the continued support over the past two decades, many who have stayed loyal since the beginning and through tough times, like this past year.”
Nine-Ten’s history actually dates back to 1928, when the spot on which it sits was the local apothecary, La Jolla Drugstore. Enter Silas O. Putnam, a Kansas man who spent a winter at the adjacent Colonial Inn (now La Jolla’s Four Diamond Grande Colonial hotel) and never left. Putnam purchased the La Jolla Drugstore and renamed it Putnam’s Pharmacy. His pharmacist was the father of Gregory Peck, who grew up in La Jolla and eventually became a Hollywood movie star. Putnam added an ice cream fountain and soon sold more chocolate Cokes and banana splits than medicine. He was so busy, seats were put out front on the sidewalk.
During WWII, the operation kept busy serving meals to soldiers who were staying at the hotel. In the late 1970s, the Colonial went through an extensive renovation, which included the space once occupied by the pharmacy. The prized corner location was turned into a restaurant affectionately named Putnam’s Grille, which became a local La Jolla landmark for three decades. The original soda fountain was replaced with a mirrored-back bar and martinis were served instead of ice cream sodas. The restaurant also stayed true to its heritage by offering diners sidewalk seating. Then, in February 2001, Putnam’s Grille closed its doors for a brief renovation, and six months later it opened as Nine-Ten. Cheers to 20 years! nine-ten.com