Another Landmark Sails Away as Local Restaurant Families Develop “Monopolies”

by on August 9, 2016 · 43 comments

in Culture, Economy, Health, History, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

PL Red Sails InnMany of us have heard awhile ago about how Anthony’s Fish Grotto has to move out of their prime location along Harbor Drive by the end of 2016.  What I hadn’t heard was that the property was taken over by the owners of the Brigantine restaurant network, the Morton family.

I became appalled when I heard this not too long ago – and I was even sitting at a window seat at the Grotto – and I honestly think that I could see the Brigantine on Shelter Island from that window.

Now just more recently, I have heard – and it’s verified by an employee – that the Red Sails Inn on Shelter Island is closing on August 31st and will be revamped and sold.

And guess who is buying it? Yeah, the same owners of the Brig.

It’s not enough that they already have a restaurant right across the street.  How much of a monopoly do they have to have?  Miguel’s on one corner;  The Brig almost on the other; and both just across the street from the Red Sails.

No question in my mind that it is time to start boycotting the company.  Pretty soon there will be a Brigantine owned restaurant, or a Cohn owned restaurant on every corner.  (Sort of like the gas station on every corner many years ago.)

And let’s add to the farewell of Shades right after Labor Day and the new owners the same ones that own Wonderland.

Have landlords priced other restaurants out of the market?

What has happened to new establishments; those that have something different to offer the public?

What happened to free enterprise?

Two restaurants owned by the Cohn group in Ocean Beach; three restaurants owned by the Mortons on Shelter Island; two restaurants owned by the same group upstairs/downstairs from each other in Ocean Beach.

The choices are getting slimmer and slimmer.  I will tell you this: I will no longer go to the Brigantine for “taco Tuesday”; (South Beach is better anyway but more crowded.)  I will no longer indulge in the great white jalapeno sauce at Miguel’s; I will no longer eat at “Wonderland” – besides I don’t like the noise OR the hair in my hamburger; and I don’t drink beer so I will no longer go to the “OB Warehouse.”

Just let me know when and where new, individually owned restaurants are opening, and I’ll be there to sample their fare.  And, while I am at it, I hope that the prices are not as exorbitant as they seem to be at the other eateries!


{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Graves August 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Curry you couldn’t be more wrong! The Brigantine Restaurants and Cohn Group are great operators and always have eateries I welcome to the neighborhood. Each has its own unique style and serve great food, places to which I regularly take out-of-towners. You’re out of touch!


judi August 9, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Strange Eric. Last Tuesday I took 5 people to the Brig for Taco Tuesday; the Friday night before that I took 6 people to Miguels for lunch. A week before that I took 4 people to the Red Sails for a late breakfast. I go to these places; I enjoy these places. BUT I would like to have more of a variety.


RB August 9, 2016 at 3:11 pm

I am sad to hear that the Red Sail Inn may close. It is a great place to have breakfast on the patio. Its also sad that Anthony’s was pushed out. But the evil doers are not the other restaurants or private landlords, it is government in the form of the Port District.

Let me be the first to sign up to boycott our big, greedy, unelected governmental agencies……..


BeachGirl August 9, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Wow Judi. You sound even crankier than usual. This article is a bit over the top. It’s also very selective – you don’t mention the 3 places owned in OB by Noodle House or the multiple locations of Raglan with all its names. You get my point. The Cohns are a little out of control and I won’t eat there because they don’t use a lot of well sourced ingredients. But if a place that sourced local with humane meat repopulated I would be excited. Urban Solacd in OB, I’d eat there all the time!! These are hardly McDonald’s like chains and for the most part are local business, no?


Retired Botanist August 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

I can’t comment much on the other restaurants or politics, but I had many a Sunday breakfast at the “Red Snails” (sic) over the last 20 years with my brother, who had woodworking shops on Shelter Island Drive. Everybody who was local in the marine industry ate there, and I have many fond memories. Happy Trails to the Sails, you’ll be missed!


Justin August 9, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Whoa why should we boycott the Brigantine????
This is a company started by local OB/PL surfers decades ago. They have been supporting and employing hundreds of people in this community for decades. They all live locally and support our schools and community. This is hardly a “monopoly” but a local family run business that is successful that the owners of the Red Sails decided to sell to because they new their restaurant would be kept in the Point Loma tradition. Also the same reason the city chose them to take over Anthony’s.


Susan Peinado August 9, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Judi, my beau and I really like Espresso. My favorite waitress is Jackie and the Osso Buco is to die for – but they don’t have it every night. Pasta Puttanesca is not on the menu but the chef has always endulged my request.


Lucky Beach August 9, 2016 at 4:43 pm

The Red Sails has a great location but is in desperate need of a remodel.
Both the decor and the menu got stuck in time.
Not sure why you would boycott success.


Byron Wear August 9, 2016 at 4:45 pm

The Morton Family has been around San Diego and the Peninsula for at least 80 plus years. Mike Morton has been a great civic leader. His late brother Lance was a lifeguard in OB in the 50’s and hung out at Sunset Cliffs. The next generation is now managing. They live in Point Loma and have a diverse group of establishments that serve visitors and residents. They give each of their restuarants a personal touch and provide many jobs. They also contribute to many many charities both here and abroad for children in need. The Mortons play by the rules and do not receive special treatment from the port or the city. We are all blessed to have the extended Morton family as our neighbors on Point Loma.


tennyson August 9, 2016 at 6:04 pm

I have tried to love Red Sails. That patio right on the water, that very working class, very neighborhood -everyone knows your name-bar. That old, if not somewhat decaying, steakhouse ambiance. I have tried menu items that seemed to be so standard no one could ruin them: steak, pancakes, salad, etc. The food at Red Sails is, well, it is terrible. Maybe if I was still drinking it would not matter but OMG sober, stone cold sober and hungry the food there is just plain awful. Losing Anthony’s, on the other hand, that is just a damn tragedy and, yes, that one we can directly blame those ever-present, ever revenue greedy Port Commissioners.


Chris August 10, 2016 at 9:01 am

Anthony’s food in all reality has been in decline for awhile.


Jim grant August 9, 2016 at 6:16 pm

The Cohn’s and Mortons are perfect examples of free enterise. Put out a good product consistently and people will come and your phone will ring. It’s not that hard to figure out.


Harry August 9, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Judy, I used to have a rule when I was mad: write the letter then hold it for three days. Usually I found that I didn’t need, or shouldn’t, send it. I think you should find your own three day rule. Obviously, you were upset, or disappointed, at the closing of Red Sails. But your launching of a “boycott” of the Morton family or the Cohn Group is just ill considered. And you comment on “free enterprise” is inexplicable. I enjoy your reviews but your editorials need work.


Judi August 9, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Thank you for your advice Harry. However I was not mad; I am disappointed and as wonderful as the Morton’s may be I still do not care to see another “Brig” type restaurant on Shelter Island And for your information it took me over 3 days to write the piece.

One of the nice things about editorials is that is the author’s opinion. You don’t have to agree-or disagree with it. In fact, you don’t even have to read it

It is my choice to no longer patronize the Brig or Miguel’s just as it is the Morton’s choice not to find jobs for the Red Sails workers while the remodel goes on. It is nice those people will get priority but it doesn’t help them for four months.

Nope. Not angry. Disappointed and there is no change in my thoughts


Christo August 9, 2016 at 9:30 pm


Lets see…
Point Break Cafe
Fiddlers Green
Umi Sushi
Loma Bonita
Supannee House
Old Venice
Point Loma Seafoods

Those are all within 3 blocks of the Brig. Hardly a “monopoly”.

And Red Sails is by far the worst of those establishments. Not even in the same class. Reliant completely on those who have lost their taste buds- or never had them in the first place. I’m frankly surprised it lasted into the 21st Century.


Chris August 10, 2016 at 11:02 am

You forgot Harbor Town Pub.


Cholly August 9, 2016 at 10:03 pm


We understand the new joint is to be called the Ketch. Though why they want to change the name of a piece of an 85-year or so of local history remains a mystery. Hope they keep all the neat junk on the walls. The Cohn group has done a wonderful job with their restaurants. Corvette Diner is wonderful for kids of all ages, though certainly not everyone’s cuppa. Keep up the journalistic excellence and tell ’em to cluck off.


Judi August 9, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Thank you


Kirk Mather August 9, 2016 at 10:11 pm

Whoops! Can’t agree here. A local family successfully opens and operates multiple restaurants so we should boycott them? Red Sails and Anthony’s will certainly have a kitchen upgrade and at least for Anthony’s a major face-lift.

What about the Noodle Houses, Raglan, Bali Hai & Tom Hams, or Pizza Port which all have multiple locations (I think Pizza Port is in, gasp, Orange County) should they be boycotted?

Seems like you are singling the Morton Family out.


TS.OB August 10, 2016 at 8:20 am

It sounds to me that your are being more sentimental than realistic. Both Anthony’s and Red Sails get poor reviews on Yelp and I personally haven’t been to either in years because of the dated ambiance and low quality of food. Anything going in either location will be an improvement. There are easily over 100 restaurants in Point Loma and OB. Why you would not support a locally owned restaurant with great food and good atmosphere is beyond me.

Either way they won’t miss you and this review will live in an archive of the OB Rag so it really doesn’t matter except that you feel important by making your feelings heard.


Chris August 10, 2016 at 10:32 am

To be fair, the outdated atmosphere is not a bad thing in and of itself. Look at how The Red Fox is thriving and Albies was until forced to vacate the space due to new ownership of the building. Old school is popular and it sells if the food and service is good, that’s where I agree with you in that RS’s quality has been in decline for a long time.


Eloise August 10, 2016 at 8:23 am

Judi I love Sandara and Ulivo on Sunset Cliffs in OB. Give them a try!


judi August 10, 2016 at 10:27 am

You are right, Eloise. They are good.


Chris August 10, 2016 at 8:53 am

While I love the old kitschy décor and atmosphere of RS and will miss it (I’ve been going there since I was a kid with my parents when we would come down to San Diego), the truth is this place has really gone downhill in the past decade. The food quality is mediocre at best. Even the regulars will be the first to admit that. Same thing with Anthony’s. Both places have been hanging on due to nostalgia more than anything else. Nostalgia is not a bad thing by any means, but when the food quality has declined as much as it has then they lose business to other choices of which there are hundreds. Every time I go to either Anthony’s or RD is seems they are barely a quarter filled to capacity, no matter what time of day or day of the week it is. Places like The Red Fox in North Park have managed to keep gong and thrive. Fiddlers Green next door seems to be doing great. My two cents.


Chris August 10, 2016 at 8:59 am

Also to be honest, the Brigantine’s food is much better than Anthony’s.


Jeffeck August 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

Definition of Monopoly: The exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.

Unless the Morton family controls all food (or at least a type of food), they are NOT a monopoly


Chris August 10, 2016 at 10:27 am

Another thing I can say, I’d much rather have The Brig Group take over the space than a Bubba Gump’s Shrimp or Margaritaville.


judi August 10, 2016 at 10:28 am

This comment was made on another site by a neighbor. Perhaps it will shed some light on what I was trying to say – poorly, obviously.

I don’t think it’s that anyone is against the Morton family. I think it’s the idea that business’ with smaller pockets can’t compete with the ones who have larger, deeper pockets. And often times they get bought out. When anyone has a huge aray of restaurants, and several in one area, that does become a bit of a monopoly for lack of a better term. A good example would be Cox cable. If there were lot’s of other cable companies out there, there would be a price war. Thus our cable prices would go down. I think that’s the crux of what is being versed. No one faults the Morton family for making a living.


Chris August 10, 2016 at 10:36 am

That’s fair what you said. But I still think it comes down to quality. In my opinion at least, RS really just wasn’t very good. I remember it being a lot better in the past, and that’s why they just were not getting the patronage they used to.


Anne August 10, 2016 at 2:52 pm

25? years ago we loved Red Sails – price, menu, quality, ambiance. They used to have such good clam chowder I’d order it for breakfast. But in the last 15 years every time we’d go back there was a new disappointment – price, menu, quality, ambiance. We’d try different times of day. Farewell Red Sails, Welcome Ketch, but I hope it will offer better food and perhaps some senior prices.


Dave August 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Ms. Curry, I find your article completely void of any logic or evidence in every argument. I count 18 restaurants withing four blocks of the Red Sails, that is far from a monopoly. You say “What has happened to new establishments; those that have something different to offer the public?” Are you looking around? Over the past few years there have been many restaurants open in Point Loma and OB, some in places where past restaurants did not succeed. There is much more variety than there was ten years ago. Now include Liberty station with many restaurants and many more within the Public Market! I don’t have the data but I’m pretty sure if you counted restaurants ten years ago and then counted today in PL/OB you’d find an increase. That increase provides more selection, more options and also more competition for the existing restaurants. If you individually don’t want to support a business with more than one location then you have that option, but to claim it is a monopoly and call for boycotting is just not fair practice in my opinion. So don’t eat at these restaurants, don’t get coffee from Starbucks, don’t shop at Ralphs or buy gas from AmPm, that’s your choice. As for me … I like to go to a place where I know the owners know how to do things well. I also like to support the new startup restaurants and often do. I like selection and I like success whether it’s their first location or their twentieth. – Dave


judi August 10, 2016 at 6:32 pm

Dave, thank you for your rant. Apparently you have missed my point – that being I’d like to see different restaurants in the area that are owned by others. I like Miguel’s; I like the Brig; I would like something that offers a different menu. Having three restaurants owned by the same people within spitting distance of each other does not offer the variety I would like to see. They also can keep prices higher because of their inner connection. Yes there are a lot of Starbucks; yes there are a lot of Ralphs; yes there are a lot of AmPm but they are not next door to each other. All I am saying is that I would to have seen a different type of restaurant opening up there. Just as I would like to continue seeing a fish restaurant where Anthony’s is now. Of course there is an increase of restaurants. That is not my point. Apparently you missed it in the original post.


Kirk Mather August 11, 2016 at 9:46 am

Judi, this is a much mellower opinion than your original call to boycott Morton owned restaurants. I doubt this would have generated such angst from.your readers.


Dave August 11, 2016 at 12:43 am

Just weighing in here (and clarifying that the other Dave isn’t me, old fat East County Dave that’s haunted this blog for a decade or more)…

Red Sails sucked. Sucked dick. Sorry for the crudeness for those that don’t get the reference, but suffice to say that food quality and staff left a whole fucking lot to be desired. If ever a restaurant deserved to die, it’s this one, and there’s no denying that from anyone who’s visited recently.

What comes of the place is a different matter. There are already Brig and Miguel’s restaurants nearby, so I’m assuming the Brig cartel has a different idea they’re ready to execute. I’ll hold my judgment until that’s up and running.


OB Mercy August 11, 2016 at 1:52 am

I’ve only lived here 7 yrs, so I have no nostalgic attachment to RS, but I do get that. I’ve eaten there several times and this food blogger thought it was pretty bad. Feel almost the same about the Brig, it’s just slightly better.

Judi, I feel you couldn’t be more wrong about OB Warehouse. My bf and I eat there a couple of times a month and brunches too and we’re never disappointed. We also like that they change the menu up every 6 mos or so. Go back, tell mgr Yami I sent you. She’ll treat you right.. Service from all there rocks.

Mike’s Taco Club across the street from the extremely mediocre South Beach is such a delicious no brainer, I don’t know why anyone would go back to SB after eating at Mike’s. Besides the fresh fish tacos, their steak and shrimp burritos are a taste and tenderness gigantic delight! Their guacamole and house made chips are extremely good too. And an Oreo milkshake that is too good for a little taco stand!

Oh and I like Bo Beau too. Always a good meal there. Chef Kat Humphus Is no longer there, but she set up a great menu that is still in place and keeps them busy every night.


Chris August 11, 2016 at 6:26 am

As others have stated, the Brig group of establishments so close together is hardly monopoly. So many independent places have opened up on PL/OB in the past 10 years the area there are plenty of choices. My favorite place for a good craft beer is Fathom just a little past Humphrey’s. I will try the new place out when it opens and see for myself.


Geoff Page August 16, 2016 at 11:29 am

Well, I don’t care what anyone says, I love Red Sails and I was very sad to hear this. I’ve been going there for 30 years, took my kids there all the time when they were little and they loved to play on the fountain. My grown son and I just had breakfast there a week ago. The food is not terrific, I agree, but it is ok and reasonably priced. The atmosphere is great, what some folks call kitschy, but their atmosphere is real, kitschy is fake. The staff has always been very friendly. The patio dining, which I hope continues, was great. It is a relaxing, comfortable eating experience. The place was always full of boating people. My son loved the deep sea diving costume they had. Time marches on of course, I just wish it didn’t take away fond memories like the Red Sails. This one hurts.

My only other comment is about the comments Judi received. We can differ in our opinions folks but is it necessary to be nasty about it? The lady expressed an opinion, so tell her why you don’t agree, politely. Is that so hard?


Christo August 16, 2016 at 11:44 am

Maybe because she was factually wrong (about a monopoly) and is calling for a boycott of a local, family owned business based on her factually incorrect beliefs?


Geoff Page August 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm

So maybe the comments can still be civil? There is nothing wrong with correcting someone if they have some facts wrong, that is not being impolite. She wasn’t trying to start a big boycott movement, if she was, the comments could serve to dissuade her. It is just that there is enough nastiness out there, we don’t need to do that here. And, intelligent discussions are brought down to a lower level by that kind of thing, that’s all.


Christo August 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

We should maintain civility especially when we disagree.

One person called her “crankier than usual” .

Another found her article “completely void of any logic or evidence in every argument”.

Besides that, nothing personally negative.

Am I missing something here?


Geoff Page August 16, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Curry you couldn’t be more wrong!
You’re out of touch!
You sound even crankier than usual.
Reliant completely on those who have lost their taste buds- or never had them in the first place.
I find your article completely void of any logic or evidence in every argument.
Red Sails sucked. Sucked dick. Sorry for the crudeness for those that don’t get the reference, but suffice to say that food quality and staff left a whole fucking lot to be desired.

These kinds of comments are not as bad as some I’ve seen but the intent is to be insulting and that is what I object to. What’s wrong with just saying I disagree and here is why. As for your own taste buds comment, that insults anyone who liked the place.


tennyson August 16, 2016 at 1:09 pm

I totally agree with you, Geoff. I love the very real downhome atmosphere at Red Sails, I love the neighborhood feel of the bar even though I no longer drink. I love that Red Sails is never full of nor does it cater to foodies, hipsters, metero-sexuals, wine and craft beer snobs (no one’s gonna give you “the look” if you just want a plain ol’ Bud) or whatever we call those folks now and that will surely all be gone under new ownership. And for that atmosphere I even endure, from time to time, the terrible food.


Susie August 17, 2016 at 2:16 am

I used to go there 19 yrs ago.
It was ok but not good.
Then when no more dogs allowed on patio,
We stopped going. Plus service was sketchy.

Person was correct of the brig…. Too $$$ for the food
Miguel’s too. Drinks are so watered down too.


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