After four months filled with renovations and inspections, Jersey Boys Diner, the newest restaurant in Imperial Beach, hopes to finally open its doors in the next few weeks.
“There is no exact date. But we are working inside as if we are going to open in April,” said Gregg Lalka, the restaurant's owner.
Lalka said Jersey Boys will start with a soft opening, meaning there will be no advertisements or announcements. When the time comes, he will simply turn on his "OPEN" sign.
The restaurant’s menu will feature burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches such as Philly cheese steaks with ingredients imported from Philadelphia. Lalka said Jersey Boys will mostly be known for its kielbasa, and menu items will be named after famous people from New Jersey.
A sandwich will be named after Frank Sinatra, breakfast after The Situation and, of course, there will be a Snookie Cookie, though references to the Jersey Shore will be kept to a minimum.
Lalka said his menu is mainly based on ingredients used by his father, who worked in New Jersey restaurants when he was a child. The kitchen will be overseen by Executive Chef Rick Jefferies, who came to Jersey Boys from the Coronado Firehouse Bar and Grill.
The restaurant is currently undergoing some fine tuning in repairs and inspections.
Lalka said the restaurant has yet to receive its business permit because the facility still needs to pass an inspection by the San Diego County Health Department.
Health Department officials are scheduled to inspect Jersey Boys this week.
The biggest obstacle in opening up the restaurant, Lalka said, is the fact that the facility, which was once MZM Sea Coast Bistro, was not up to fire code.
“I do not feel it is appropriate for me to comment in detail on fire code violations by MZM as I do not work for them,” Lalka said. “All I can say is that they were not up to fire code.”
He signed the lease to the 1,800-square-foot property in mid-December 2010. The lease is for three years with options that could extend up to 12 years, said Lalka.
The lease was signed for an undisclosed amount.
The restaurant is located at 875 Seacoast Dr., a location Lalka said was his second choice. At first, he said he considered a location in Hillcrest but the deal fell through.
He soon found the property in Imperial Beach on Craigslist. Lalka said once he checked out the property he immediately knew this is where he wanted to start his business.
“We love this place,” he said. “I didn’t know much of Imperial Beach until we got here. The city was our main selling point. We fell in love with the area.”
Jersey Boys will have four televisions inside offering Direct TV with a subscription to all major sports packages. On the walls of the restaurant will be pictures of New Jersey-born celebrities such as John Travolta, Jon Bon Jovi and Jason Alexander.
Lalka said he feels the community will accept his business with open arms.
“The support by the community has been awesome. People are telling me they are excited,” he said.