Families Off the 56 have been loving Kid Ventures 4S Ranch since 2008. So I decided to stop by to chat with owner, Darren Solomon, to find out what this unique facility is all about!
Darren’s wife, Debbie Solomon, wanted to translate her background in gymnastics and children’s education into a unique center for children to learn, grow, and have fun! So after experiencing much success with her previous business venture in children’s education, Debbie joined forces with Darren, and they now own and operate Kid Ventures in 4S Ranch!
Kid Ventures is an award-winning next generation children’s education, enrichment, and entertainment center that is pushing the limits on early education. Kids play and learn in a fun and stimulating indoor area that is designed with creativity in mind. Their programs and activities are geared towards children between one and six years old, though kids up to eight are welcome at their summer camps.
But Kid Ventures isn’t just for the kids! Darren and Debbie wanted to make sure the space was one where parents wanted to hang out, too. So they added a coffee and snack bar in the facility where adults can sit back and relax while their kids are close by! The Solomons are proud that Kid Ventures has also become a place for families in North County to meet other parents and have the opportunity to socialize while their kids have a great time, too.
With many kids out of school for the summer, this is possibly their busiest time of the year! They offer weekly summer camps with different themes each week to keep your child interested and engaged. Kid Ventures’ summer camps are super flexible. Kids can attend half days, full days, or even full weeks to best accommodate a busy parent’s schedule. Click here for more information on Kid Ventures’ 2019 summer camps.
After hearing that families in the community were looking for childcare alternatives throughout the year, Darren and Debbie Solomon decided to get licensed to operate a preschool program at each of their locations. Their Preschool Academy really focuses on cultivating a love of learning. Yes the kids still get to play and have fun, but at Kid Ventures, they really want the kids to fall in love with learning so that they can carry that love and passion with them during their entire educational journey.
Kid Ventures also offers birthday parties, daytime play, and Kids Night Out on Friday nights where parents can drop their kids off while they enjoy date night! This place really has it all! Click here for a list of current classes and events near you. And don’t forget to take advantage of their “Happy Hour Special” – half price admission during the last hour of the day!
Are you a fan of BT’s BBQ in Torrey Highlands? Well you might have noticed they recently changed their name to BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs! I stopped in recently to chat with owner, Brad Taylor, about his business and what’s behind the name change.
Brad discovered a love of cooking (and barbecue in particular) at an early age. He spent years perfecting his recipes and eventually started a catering and event company. Now as the owner of BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs, he gets to share his barbecue magic with the Off the 56 community.
BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs serves a broad selection of southern barbecue favorites like baby back ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. But the true “sleeper on the menu” is the smoked turkey breast, which is packed full of flavor and absolutely delicious. BT’s also offers a menu of daily specials. In fact, the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken was a Wednesday special for years until enough customers raved about it to get it permanently on the menu – hence the rebrand to BT’s Hot Chicken and Ribs! BT’s current daily specials include Smoked Meatball Madness on Monday, Taco Tuesday, New Orleans BBQ Shrimp on Friday, and more. Have little ones? BT’s has a kid’s menu that serves up smaller portions of some of their main menu favorites. Click here to check out the full menu.
Brad also took me through their new menu items. BT’s is now serving up four sandwiches that feature their signature Nashville Hot Fried Chicken: the original Nashville Chicken Sandwich, the Nashville Chicken Parm, the Nashville Pitmaster, and the Clux Capacitor. You’ll have the option to choose your heat level, so if you don’t like your food too spicy you can still enjoy one of BT’s new chicken sandwiches.
In additional to all their awesome food items, BT’s also has sixteen craft beers on tap. If you stop in between 4-6pm, you can take advantage of their happy hour special and get a pint for just $5.50.
BT’s is open every day after 11am. It’s the perfect place to grab lunch or dinner with the family. You can also pick up one of their family packs to go which is designed to feed a crowd. And if you can’t get enough of BT’s southern favorites, you can also hire them to cater your next event.
Last August we broke the news that Knotty Barrel was coming to Rancho Penasquitos. Now that they’ve finally opened to the public, I went back to check out the new space, grab a beer, and interview James Thorp, who is the General Manager of the new restaurant and a local PQ resident himself.
Ok I’ll be honest – this wasn’t my first visit since Knotty Barrel Rancho Penasquitos opened. But I’ve been enjoying the new spot so I knew I wanted to do another feature with these guys to share with you all the cool things they’re working on. If you missed our first interview with the owner of Knotty Barrel, Ken Lovi, you can check it out here.
What really impressed me about the new restaurant is their commitment to making Knotty Barrel a place by and for the community. Yes they serve great food and great beer, but they also have a vision in mind of Knotty Barrel as a gathering spot for the people of PQ.
First, there’s the great indoor/outdoor space they’ve created. They have tables and a bar inside, but outside they’ve got great conversational spaces around fire pits, AstroTurf for the kids to play on, and even a dog hooks so you can bring fido along without worrying about spilling your beer. Knotty Barrel is really a place for the whole family to comfortably enjoy and that’s reflected in the thoughtful way the restaurant space has been designed.
Next, they’ve designed their menu to serve the quality food and drink people were looking for without breaking the bank. They’ve got a great Monday special right now – $13 for a burger and pint of beer. On Wednesdays, they do half off pint nights after 8pm. On Thursdays they host a trivia night. And they’ve got Happy Hour from 3-6pm Monday through Friday. James also told me they’re working on creating a more sharable menu for large groups like the Little League and soccer crowd. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re also planning to launch a weekend brunch menu this summer.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out their menu yet, click here. I’ve tried a bunch of things off the new menu, but I really like the Knotty Burger and the steak sandwich. The salads are also quite good. And of course, you have to try a pint of their own Knotty Brewing beers. The beer is made downtown next to the other Knotty Barrel location. They also have additional craft beers on tap and a robust drink menu if you’re more of a cocktail drinker.
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how the new restaurant continues to develop in response to what the community is looking for. It’s obvious James and Ken are very open to feedback from their customers and that’s a really exciting thing to have for the people of PQ and the rest of the Off the 56 communities.
Have you checked out the new Knotty Barrel Rancho Penasquitos? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think!
Sorrento Mesa isn’t typically the first place that comes to mind when you think “cool beer spot” or “fun restaurant to enjoy with the whole family,” but the newly opened Gravity Heights is determined to change that. I recently dropped by to talk with General Manager Jon Broesel about the vision for Gravity Heights and of course, to sample some bites and brews.
The brainchild of Whisknladle Hospitality Inc.’s Arturo Kassel and the original Alesmith brewmaster, Skip Virgilio, Gravity Heights is a 12,000 square foot brewpub just a stone’s throw away from Qualcomm’s massive campus. Part restaurant, part bewery, and part event space, Gravity Heights is a feast for the eyes and the palette. Vibrant, California modern dining spaces flow seamlessly from outside to inside, with seating options allowing for everything from intimate conversation to casual gatherings to large celebrations.
Rather than restricting their clientele to the 21+ crowd, Gravity Heights has embraced families by filling their outdoor side yard with games and AstroTurf. As Jon Broesel explained, the vision for Gravity Heights was to create a space that families could enjoy as well. I’d say this vision has been well executed. On any given visit to the brewpub, you’re sure to find the crowd is representative of the diversity of people living in our Off the 56 community from young professionals to families to retirees.
But what really makes Gravity Heights stand out in my opinion is the quality of the food AND the beer. Like I said in the video, usually when you find a place with good beer, they don’t have good food and vice versa. But the team at Gravity Heights has really nailed it on both fronts. While I was meeting with Jon, I got to try a few of their beers and the Meat pizza. That pizza is honestly one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in San Diego – I’m still looking for an excuse to go back and order it again! And the beers were outstanding. I particularly enjoyed the June Gloom Hazy IPA. Though if you’re not into IPAs, they have plenty of other beers on tap including some collaborations and guest beers, hard kombucha and cider, mixed drinks, and wine. To try the menu for yourself, make plans to join them for daily happy hour from 3-6pm in the bar and beer garden!
If you’re looking for a space to host your next event or celebration, look no further. Gravity Heights is equipped to handle parties of all shapes and sizes. They also have a private mezzanine you can book that overlooks the brewery and restaurant below. In addition to having its own bar and lounge, the mezzanine also has a pool table, shuffle board, and arcade games.
Gravity Heights is open every day except for select holidays. Click here to browse their dining menu and their current drink list. They do accept dining reservations, which I highly recommend as they have been quite popular since the brewpub opened at the end of January.
Have you checked out Gravity Heights yet? If so, let me know what you thought by leaving me a comment below. And if you’ve got a business Off the 56 I should hit up next, just post it below!
The Sweet Treats Truck Stop recently parked in Rancho Penasquitos and has been welcomed to the community with open arms! If there’s one thing the community has been lacking, it’s a dessert café stocked with delicious, sweet treats. I sat down with Jennifer Saint, who owns the Sweet Treats Truck Stop with her husband, Chris, to get the inside scoop on their new shop.
Jennifer and Chris have owned and operated the Sweet Treats Dessert Catering Trucks since 2008, but decided to open a physical storefront after looking for somewhere to manufacture their Wicked Licks bars. They decided to open a location in Rancho Penasquitos since they live in the area.
The Sweet Treats Truck Stop offers a variety of delectable menu items. Sweet Treats sources a lot of their desserts from small, local bakeries. On any given day, you can walk in and enjoy treats from their dessert display case that represent the work of four to five local bakers. Jennifer explained that it helps the bakers get their signature product out to the world and helps them grow their own business – we absolutely love seeing this type of community support on Off the 56!
The most popular item on the dessert menu is their cookie shots, which consist of a cookie “shot glass” with a shot of milk inside. So you can have your milk and cookie at the same time! Other popular items on the menu include the decadent stuffed cookies, which are made by Seaside Sweets. Currently, there’s a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with a brownie, a funfetti cookie stuffed with a Fruity Pebble rice krispy treat, and a red velvet cookie stuffed with a brownie…this is definitely what sweet dreams are made of! They also have other items on the menu like apple streusel rolls, flourless chocolate cake, and more.
But the main attraction at the Sweet Treats Truck Stop is definitely the Wicked Licks bars. Based on the old 50/50 dream bars, Jennifer said their goal was to take the concept and elevate it with better flavors. They offer gelato, sorbetto, and a 50/50 gelato sorbetto bar. To order, you start by picking the flavor bar you want and then you can pick the dip, drizzle, dusting, and toppings you want to create your own custom dessert! Mango sorbetto is one of their most popular flavors and they currently have a limited edition cotton candy gelato flavor. They also offer classic choices like strawberry, peanut butter, chocolate, raspberry, and more.
The Sweet Treats Truck Stop is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12-8pm in the Rancho Penasquitos Town Center off Black Mountain Road. You can learn more about the shop and book their dessert catering trucks for your next event by visiting their website here. And make sure you give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram to see the latest treats!
Have you been to the Truck Stop yet? Leave me a comment below with your favorite item on the menu. I’m already looking forward to making a return trip! Maybe I need to do a dessert challenge like my coffee shop challenge – what do you think?
A few weeks ago I sat down with the owner of Jen loves Pets, Jennifer Taylor. Jen Loves Pets is a local dog walking & pet sitting services which is located right here off the 56 in Rancho Penasquitos.
Jen started the company while spending time with her own dog at the Rancho Penasquitos Dog Park contemplating what was next for her in life after she had to leave her corporate job due to health reasons. After some thought, Jen started researching dog walking & pet sitting. She started the company herself back in April of 2010 and almost 9 years later, she has 8 employees and services an 8 mile radius of Rancho Penasquitos. Jen has an amazing outlook on life and even with her health issues she has been able to do what she loves and help her community at the same time.
She has some amazing reviews on Yelp & NEXTDOOR (which is where I found her). She confidently claims not to be the cheapest option but she is confident you won’t find a better team around. She credits everything to the amazing team she has surrounded herself with and she couldn’t do it without them. Each team member goes thru an exhaustive, hands-on training with the entire JLP team including the owner; Jennifer Taylor a Pet CPR & First Aid Instructor and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter
If you are in need of dog walking & pet sitting services in the future, look no further then Jen Loves Pets. You can find them online at JenLovesPets.com or on their facebook page, Jen Loves Pets.