The Local Eatery and Drinking Hole in San Diego is a thriving independent bar and restaurant near the Gaslamp District, where it’s been making a name for itself as a locally grown success story.
Owner Mina Desiderio manages The Local while juggling life as a mom with a toddler. We asked her how she nourished her venue and is making it flourish.
ISBB: What’s the secret of your success?
Desiderio: First, we’re from San Diego and truly love living here. Besides our restaurant and bar, what sets us apart is our outside events. We’ve been in business nearly nine years and had an idea for our first Pub Crawl eight years ago. We now bring 500 to 600 of our clients to neighboring businesses several times a year.
We go to venues that are normally not accessible during daytime hours, such as House of Blues, which opened just for us at 2 p.m. and hired live bands. The next venue was Fluxx Nightclub, which was voted in 2010 the best club in the country and opened at 3 p.m. just for us. We hired a DJ and go-go girls. We then crawled to two more venues nearby. For all of these venues, The Local paid for the entertainment and brought hundreds of customers to them. Through these events we’ve built mutually beneficial relationships with bars that we wouldn’t otherwise be associated with.
What other local events do you get involved with?
We’re quite involved with the “Over The Line Tournament.” It’s a three-man baseball league that started in San Diego 60 years ago with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club. It now draws over 40,000 people to San Diego with 3,000 teams. We sponsor 57 teams who wear our Local t-shirts. You can imagine how busy our bar gets during that time of year.
My editor saw a guy at the San Diego Airport wearing a t-shirt from The Local. How do you merchandise yourself?
We didn’t have an advertising budget when we opened, so we created a shirt that said “Drink Local.” We gave shirts to 100 friends and asked them to drink in other bars. So that caught on through a word-of-mouth campaign.
We now sponsor a lot of sporting clubs and appear at beer festivals. Though we’re downtown, we never thought we’d cater to the Financial District working crowd, but 55 percent of our clientele is businesspeople. We also get a lot of overflow from live music venues.
What recent problems have you overcome?
Oh, man! We were young when we opened downtown. We wanted to promote events and pull in people of all ages. We took a big risk, but we’ve now been open nearly nine years. We grew with the community and have built our lunch business around the business crowd who works downtown. We’re definitely a 25-and-up crowd for the bar.
How do you use your website and social media to promote your events?
We could do better with the website, but we use Facebook and Twitter to publicize our events. We also send a daily email to our “Grub List” to tell clients what the soup of the day is, the fish of the day, and what our other specials are. Plus, we send emails to an event list to promote our Pub Crawls and other local events.
What other ways do you market your events?
We do a lot of in-house marketing. We run text ads on our 18 widescreen TVs with upcoming events and use table tents to promote daily specials, plus tequila tastings, gong karaoke, salsa parties, beer pong, flip cup, and Padres and Chargers games.
To find out more about The Local Eatery and Drinking Hole (at 1065 Fourth Avenue in San Diego) and to see photos of its events, visit the bar’s website.