CH Projects again turned to Craft & Commerce’s original 2009 designer, Paul Basile of BASILE Studio, for the 2016 renovation of the San Diego locale that helped change the landscape of Little Italy’s burgeoning hospitality climate. BASILE transformed the formerly intimate space into an expansive 3,300 square-foot open layout that maintains the same intimate East Coast vibe of the original design.
Sitting on the bustling corner of Kettner Boulevard and Beech Street, Craft & Commerce is even more visible with an expanded wrap-around patio lined with built-in fire pit tables, custom ceiling-height “hangar” windows, and a new convex brick exterior that proudly displays the venue’s guiding principal: “Demand Less.”
The interior, with its “literary cabin” concept, is lined with hundreds of hardbound classic novels, and the walls are inscribed with handwritten passages from David Foster Wallace’s works. Having collaborated with the San Diego Natural History Museum, century-old taxidermy is mounted and displayed in new custom steel and glass encasements that include the dramatic hand-painted grassland scene of a lion preying over a warthog displayed above antler taps at the main re-designed bar.
The handcrafted communal table, one of the few items from the original space, can still be raised to bar height or folded down to become a drink rail. Custom white, black, and yellow mosaic tiles form an intricate diamond pattern on the floor, and the steel waterjet-cut bar face showcases backlit credit card numbers as a nod to the “commerce” in Craft & Commerce. While sitting in the oversized booth system with hand-scrawled writing elements, guests can look up to discover an infinity mirror sculpture sheathing a vintage brass light fixture.
The 2016 renovation took approximately one year to complete and added nearly 800 square feet. This expansion ensures that Craft & Commerce can continue to grow with, and because of, its neighborhood.