Escondido Mike’s BBQ in the News
A longtime Escondido resident plans to fill two gaps in the city’s dining and entertainment landscape June 24 by opening a large restaurant and sports bar that will feature 14 big-screen TVs and old-fashioned mesquite barbecue.
Owner Steve Olson said 11,000-square-foot Mike’s BBQ, just west of Interstate 15 in the Staples shopping center, will be Escondido’s only full-scale sports bar.
In addition, Olson said Mike’s will allow residents to eat authentically barbecued beef and pork in a large restaurant setting without traveling to San Marcos
“There’s nothing like this anywhere in Escondido, and I think the city really needs it,” said Olson, a 1975 graduate of San Pasqual High School.
Harvey Mitchell, chief executive of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, said Mike’s will create jobs in addition to filling two key voids in the city. Olson said he’s had more than 400 applicants this spring for roughly 100 openings.
Councilman Ed Gallo said Mike’s has a good chance to break the cycle of restaurants that have failed in its relatively large location over the years. Those include VIP Buffet, which served mostly Asian cuisine and closed about two years ago, and an Indian restaurant before that.
“Sports bars and barbecue go hand in hand, and he’s got plenty of parking,” said Gallo, who works in real estate. “I think he’ll do OK there with this type of restaurant.”
Mike’s is among several restaurants to open recently near the I-15/Valley Parkway interchange, including In-N-Out Burger, Souplantation and Cocina del Charro, which relocated from the city’s industrial sector. In addition, an El Pollo Loco is under construction a few hundred yards west of Mike’s.
Two other new restaurants, B.J.’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and North County Tavern & Bowl, are farther south on I-15 in Westfield North County regional mall.
Entering the restaurant business is a significant shift for Olson, who has spent many years operating an avocado management firm and a firewood supply business —- both in Escondido.
“I wanted a change and a different challenge,” he said.
Mike’s, which is named for a young nephew of Olson’s who died six months ago from an illness, will include a small arcade for children and a large family area separate from the sports bar. In addition, there will be a 60-seat room for banquets and private parties.
The restaurant, which can seat up to 350 people, will have a catering wing.
Olson said he’s also seeking a full liquor license, which is pending. He has secured all other required permits.
The renovations to the site will cost more than $500,000, he said.
The decor includes granite tabletops, a gigantic American flag, floors with no carpeting and piles of firewood for grilling sprinkled throughout.
“We want Mike’s to have a working-class, family atmosphere,” said Olson. “But what’s really going to set us apart is doing the natural, real-true barbecue food.”
A tentative menu shows that an eight-ounce top sirloin with two sides will cost $14.99, and a half-pound Angus cheeseburger will be $6.95. The French fries and onion rings will be cut and cooked fresh each day, Olson said.
Weekday hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Weekend hours haven’t been determined, but will probably be longer, said Olson, noting that he would definitely open early enough on Sundays for NFL football kickoffs at 10 a.m.
June 24 is scheduled to be a “soft” opening, with a more elaborate grand opening probable a week or two later, he said. The address is 1356 W. Valley Parkway.
Olson, who lives in southeastern Escondido, has three daughters who have attended local schools. His wife, Jackie, is active with the local Boys & Girl Club.
Call staff writer David Garrick at 760-740-5468.