Downtown Movers And Shakers
This month we head downtown to highlight just a few of the cutting-edge individuals who are constantly creating and evolving, and in turn moving our fine city forward. ANNAMARIASTEPHENS
Jay Porter left behind a lucrative tech career to turn restaurateur. “I wanted to focus my energy on a business that would make my neighborhood better,” he explains.
In 2005, he launched North Park’s The Linkery, one of San Diego’s first farm-to-table eateries — and arguably one of the nation’s finest. From housemade sausages to grass-finished beef raised on a ranch in San Luis Obispo, the food is local, sustainable, and simply delicious.
Earlier this year, Porter debuted a “gastro-cantina” called El Take It Easy, also in North Park. “It’s our take on a cantina you might find in a really creative, indie part of Mexico City,” says Porter. Dishes are daring — think beef cheeks on butter lettuce and rabbit taquitos — and the craft lager list can’t be beat.
Porter, whose mad-scientist hair matches his experimental approach to dining, hopes more local restaurateurs will embrace high-quality ingredients, even though they cost more. “Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back.”
Wendy and Jonathan Segal
In their Little Italy penthouse with wraparound views, Jonathan and Wendy Segal set the standard for downtown’s sophisticated power couples.
For starters, Jonathan, an award-winning architect, designed The Q, the ultra-cool, multi-use building they live in. “That’s why we built it,” says Jonathan. “So we could move back to Little Italy.”
Downstairs at street level, Wendy runs Red Velvet, an intimate wine bar inspired by the duo’s many travels abroad. “I wanted something different and simple,” says Wendy. “Somewhere you could go by yourself and feel comfortable and meet new people.” (Her favorite pour: white Burgundy.)
Up next, the Segals are working on The Charmer, a 21-unit mixed-use project on India Street. Jonathan also hopes to develop a San Diego-based think tank. “[We’d] study the key ingredients that make cities great and present our findings to our city planners and government officials.” Our take? These two have already discovered the perfect mix.
From Wall Street whiz to Web radio guru, Alexandra Rosa hasn’t skipped a beat between successes. She started her career as an analyst in New York, helped launch a spa franchise (now shuttered), and followed a short stint on Bravo TV with ArtRocks!, an online radio show chronicling San Diego arts, culture, and fashion. New this year: ArtRocks! 247, an online TV talk show.
Rosa, a fashionista who favors four-inch heels and Versace, is an anything-goes hostess, especially when it comes to interviews. “I do tons of research,” she says with a twinkle in her eye. “I like to tease my guests.” That roster has included everyone from Bono and Jamie Lee Curtis to local luminary Zandra Rhodes — a regular — and unknown up-and-comers.
Though she enjoys San Diego — especially Little Italy, where she lives — Rosa says she’ll never get used to downtown’s casual sartorial attitude. “I’ll go to the opera or big galas and men will be wearing Dockers and Birkenstocks!” she laughs.