The Whaling Bar is returning to La Valencia Hotel

The historic La Jolla cocktail lounge is set to debut a redesign the blends old and new elements

Rendering of the dining area inside the new Whaling Bar in San Diego with wooden floors and marble tables.

This is a modern take on a historic La Jolla restaurant.

Rendering via Schoos Design

Ahoy, The Whaling Bar. La Valencia Hotel’s historic cocktail lounge is set to return this month — a decade after it sailed away. Its redesign is set to make quite a splash, mixing familiar elements with a new menu and dining experience.

A killer history

In 1949 — 23 years after La Valencia opened — The Whaling Bar debuted as a cocktail lounge that shared a wall with Café la Rue.

Wing Howard's mural “The Whale’s Last Stand” behind the bar at The Whaling Bar prior to its closure in 2012 depicting whales popping out of the ocean.

“The Whale’s Last Stand” in its former home at the original Whaling Bar.

Image courtesy of La Valencia Hotel

The space had a dark, late-1800s nautical theme with art by Wing Howard, including a 20-ft mural dubbed “The Whale’s Last Stand.” During its run, it attracted famous guests like Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, Gregory Peck, and Robin Williams.

By the time the new millennium arrived, and into the 2010s, The Whaling Bar was considered a relic of a bygone era. It was causing financial strain on La Valencia, and hearts broke when the restaurant closed on Valentine’s Day 2013. It was replaced with an expanded Café la Rue that has since closed.

Rending of the inside of the Whaling Bar with tables, green velvet booths, and the bar in the back.

We see those velvet booths.

Rendering via Schoos Design

Orca-strating a comeback

A new chapter for The Whaling Bar is upon us, with the redesigned restaurant set to debut Friday, Feb. 16.

The $1.5 million project gutted the 1,500-sqft space and will feature black marble bar tops, coffered ceilings, and new flooring to blend with La Valencia’s Mediterranean design. Also look for throwbacks to the original lounge, like velvet booths and Howard’s mural.

The restaurant is managed by SDCM Restaurant Group, the local hospitality company behind hotspots like Kettner Exchange and The Grass Skirt. Its menu will feature offerings by Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski and beverage director Eric Johnson. Expect to see the New York strip loin — an homage to the original restaurant’s liver and onions — but we’re still waiting to see if the classic Whaler’s Grog returns.

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