With restaurants still in flux and tourism curtailed, Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien and his partners at Grain & Grit Collective are shifting their new Seaport Village project in a direction that’s more in line with these pandemic times. Earlier this year, the Emmy-winning “everyman cook” and the local hospitality group signed a lease for Buster’s Beach House & Longboard Bar, a longtime fixture of the Lighthouse District at the waterfront complex. Although they still intend to remodel the space into a full-fledged sit-down restaurant someday, their immediate plan is to activate it as a ghost kitchen that will offer takeout and delivery as well as outdoor seating on site.
Called Eats by Sam, the virtual restaurant will eventually contain several different concepts, with Samburgers and Samwiches being the first to launch. Zien told Eater that the menus were informed by the most-watched videos on his YouTube channel, featuring popular recipes like the “Chili Cheese Samburger” and “Shrimp Salad Samwich”.
Scheduled to debut in mid-October via delivery on UberEats, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Postmates, with local beer delivery available on select platforms, Eats by Sam will also have an ordering kiosk at the Seaport Village site along with a large outdoor garden area for dining. But the ghost kitchen model give the partners an easy and viable way to grow right now. Zien says they’re hoping to build more of these virtual restaurants in San Diego and beyond, and Grain & Grit tells Eater that they’re actively seeking real estate opportunities right now.” We recognize the significant changes in the restaurant real estate market and believe Eats by Sam provides us an opportunity to work with landlords to fill space and expand our brands,” said Mike DiNorscia, CEO of Grain & Grit Collective, “We have built a model that is very scalable and provides us the ability to further connect with Sam’s digital audience across the globe”