Comfort food cuisine

Rooftop restaurant and bar offers ‘cosy’ food in San Juan Capistrano

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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

When restaurateurs Archie Hami and Marc Resnick wanted to introduce their new business, The Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, to the San Juan Capistrano community, they decided to do it on a big day: the Swallows Day Parade on March 12.

The longtime friends, who have more than 50 years of combined experience in the restaurant industry, held a limited VIP opening for their new restaurant, which ended up selling out tickets. Trading partners hope conditions will be just as favorable when they have a grand public opening on April 16.

“We want something a little different, a bit of San Juan Capistrano. We wanted a very cabin woodsy feel,” Hami said. “We wanted something more of American comfort food, with a modern twist.”

Shishito peppers are among the delicacies customers can order at the Rooftop Restaurant & Bar. Photo: Collin Breaux

The Rooftop lives up to its name, with outdoor seating that offers a bird’s eye view of downtown. The restaurant is located at the former location of Ruby’s Diner above Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria & Tap Room, directly across from Swallow’s Inn. Some small patio tables are surrounded by multiple seats, allowing for intimate group gatherings.

Dishes on the menu include chicken pot pies, meatloaf and shishito peppers, which taste tangy thanks to the dressing’s seasoning.

“We want to bring the new world and the old world together, to give them memories of what they had when they were younger or what they cooked for their children – and at the same time, one of the best views of San Juan,” Hami said.

Both are Orange County residents. Resnick attended Dana Hills High School and now lives in Laguna Niguel, while Hami lives in Lake Forest. Their paths tended to cross in the restaurant business, so they decided to go into business together in San Juan.

“I mainly worked in the bar industry and in the financial advisory team. Marc is the marketing genius behind it all,” Hami said of his business background. “He’s one of the most connected people I know. He knows almost everyone. He grew up here. »

Archie Hami (left) and Marc Resnick, business partners, restaurateurs and friends, open the Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, another restaurant in downtown San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Collin Breaux

Resnick, 45, jokes that he started selling pretzels at the Mission Viejo mall when he was 15.

“I’ve owned and operated restaurants. I opened several locations for different new openings,” Resnick said. “I worked in the hotel industry. I went there, it’s done.

The two remarked on how much San Juan has grown since they were children. Hami remembers visiting Mission San Juan Capistrano when he was young and there was “nothing” around.

“Growing up here, you would pass through San Juan,” Resnick said. “It was never a place of destination. Now look at what’s happening at Dana Point with the port; it is a place of destination.

Hami and Resnick reduced seating in the restaurant after acquiring the property to give the space more respite for customers.

“We try to give an experience, with food and drink,” Hami said. “You can sit here, whether it’s a first date or a birthday. It’s an experience we want people to go home with. They can sit outside and enjoy the nice weather.

The Rooftop also aims to be a music venue, with live music planned for the restaurant, including for the grand opening on April 16, which will feature Yachty by Nature and other acts.

According to Resnick, where The Rooftop now stands was actually a community gathering place called Woodman’s Hall. He and Hami want to pay homage to this concept of being a place where people can meet on Friday nights after work.

“We are a culinary experience. We are a drinking experience. We are a patio experience,” Resnick said. “We wanted to be just in between. It’s our niche, which I think San Juan needs, because you go from the extremes.

Hami and Resnick spotted many potential buildings when researching the right location, and the downtown spot above Selma was the first they looked at.

“We were very, very lucky. This restaurant was a Ruby’s Diner for 30 years,” Resnick said. “The idea is that we want children to come and work for us as teenagers and their children to work for us. We want to carry on the tradition that Joe Campbell had here, where it was just a family place.

Visit rooftopoc.com for more information.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other southern Orange County news as editor of The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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