Verbena Kitchen closes in North Park after less than 2 years.

Verbena Kitchen, the seasonal-inspired restaurant that opened less than two years ago in San Diego’s North Park, has ceased operations. Although no official announcement has been made on the company’s social media channels, sources confirm that the 55-seat establishment has permanently closed.

In 2021, experienced San Diego chef Ronnie Schwandt, together with his wife Laura and business partner Jillian Ziska, acquired the space on University Avenue that last housed Splash Wine Lounge. The trio then transformed the venue into the acclaimed Verbena Kitchen, which was inspired by seasonal ingredients and culinary traditions.

Despite earning praise from diners and critics alike, Schwandt left the restaurant after about a year to return to Blue Bridge Hospitality, where he had previously been employed in the kitchens of Coronado. It remains unclear what prompted the decision to shutter Verbena Kitchen, or what may take its place at 3043 University Avenue.

The closure of Verbena Kitchen marks yet another shift in the competitive Southern California dining landscape, where high-profile chefs and restaurateurs are constantly vying for customers’ attention and support. San Diego’s restaurant scene in particular has seen a flurry of openings, closings, and pivots in recent years, as rising rents, concerns about food waste and sustainability, and the ongoing pandemic have all impacted the industry.

Despite the challenges, many chefs and entrepreneurs remain committed to pushing forward and delivering high-quality, innovative dining experiences. As the San Diego culinary community continues to evolve and adapt, diners can expect to see more creativity, diversity, and excitement in the years ahead.

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