Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, a staple of the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego for nearly 50 years, will be opening up its second location in Del Sur. It will replace Waypoint Public, which (unfortunately) didn’t seem to be quite the right fit for the neighborhood.
Many viewers of Off the 56 are quite excited about Ponce’s opening a second location in North County so I interviewed Ponce Meza, the owner of Ponce’s, and Mikey Knab, the director of operations for the Meza Family Restaurant Group, to learn more about their plans for the Del Sur spot:
Ponce Meza (PM): Ponce’s got its start in 1969. My father worked at a restaurant in Ocean Beach (OB) called Nati’s and that’s where he learned his restaurant chops. In 1969, my godfather made my father an offer he couldn’t refuse to open up the restaurant in Kensington. About fifteen years ago, my sister, Rocio, and I took it over.
Mikey Knab (MK): Our friend owned Waypoint Public in Del Sur. His name’s John, he went to high school with Ponce. They’ve been friends for a long time. But this area wasn’t the right fit for Waypoint so John was looking to put someone in the space that would thrive. He had the idea, and I hope he’s right, that our brand would be a really good fit for this community.
Bern McGovern (BM): Now, the menu prices in Kensington are pretty reasonable. Are they going to stay pretty consistent here as well?
PM: Yeah, I think so. I mean we’ve got to keep up with inflation if we can. But so far, our plan is to plug and play. So what we’re doing down there, we’re going to bring up here.
MK: If you have a favorite thing at Ponce’s Kensington, you will be able to get it here. Especially in the first year, anything we make down there, we’ll make here. And the prices are going to stay the same. On opening day, it’s going to be the exact same prices. I’m not even designing a new menu. We’re just going to print the one we already have so it’s consistent.
MK: Waypoint had its color scheme so it’s got teal, blue, and white and ours is just kind of a lot more.
BM: More colorful.
MK: Get the bigger box of crayons out.
BM: Nice. Tell me about the menu and what you guys serve.
PM: You should know, people love our chile rellenos, so those are one of the favorites. We have a chicken enchilada dish that sells a lot every day. There’s also the enchilada suizas.
MK: And it’s comfort food. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel and we’re not trying to serve you things you can’t pronounce. A lot of times folks ask, “What would you order if you could only eat here one more time?” And it doesn’t sound exciting, but I would get a ground beef taco, a cheese enchilada, and rice and beans. It’s comfort food. And that would be what I would eat tonight if I were eating at Ponce’s.
MK: We want to make it look like a Ponce’s so what that means is we’re going to make it look a little less pristine. It’s going to be a lot more colors.
PM: We want to make it look like our Kensington location with that modern twist.
BM: A more traditional Mexican feel to it.
PM: Yeah. So if you go down to our restaurant in Kensington, there will be elements of that here. We want to do a wall of women on one side. And then where we have our bar in Kensington, we have a pretty big back bar wooden piece that has all of our tequila displayed. So we’re planning to do the same thing here with our focus being more on tequila and margaritas.
BM: Ok. And your target open date for Ponce’s Del Sur is when?
PM: We’re looking at early October. We’re hoping to do soft openings around that time so for those of you out there who are interested in coming to the soft opening, visit our Facebook page and let us know that there’s interest. We have limited space, but-
BM: Can I sign up right now?
MK: [Laughs] Yes you can sign up right now. There will be media days, too. And we are hiring so depending on when this goes out, we need to hire about forty people. All positions: kitchen, front of the house, bars, servers, hosts, and food runners. They can email me to apply.
BM: Great! Well I speak for hopefully everyone that we’re all really excited for you guys to move in here and hopefully I’ll be one of your regulars.
Keeping prices the same as at the Del Sur location, should help Ponce’s fit right in with the other tenants in the Del Sur Town Center. The Del Sur Town Center is located off Camino Del Sur and the other restaurant tenants include Piacere Mio, Gor Gai Thai Eatery, Ototo Sushi, and Board & Brew. Ponce’s Del Sur is targeting an October 8th opening date as long as there aren’t too many surprises along the way.
The menu in Del Sur will mainly consist of traditional Mexican food complimented by a large list of agave spirits, cocktails, beer, wine, and, of course, margaritas. If you’ve never been to Ponce’s in Kensington, you can preview the menu for the Del Sur location by visiting their website here. And unlike the Kensington location, Ponce’s in Del Sur will be open on Sundays and they plan to serve bottomless mimosas!
If you or anyone you know is looking for restaurant work in the Del Sur area, please contact Mikey at mikey [@] poncesrestaurant.com
Know another local business that is opening Off the 56? Or an organization in the community that would love to be featured on the channel? Let me know – I am always looking for new people to interview on Off the 56!