When Kelly’s Treasures closed earlier this year in Hillcrest, we couldn’t help but be a little bummed. The former antique store was always a neat place to browse and you never knew what you’d find. We knew we’d miss it, but wondered what would become of the historic space. At 801 University Avenue, the building has a long history dating back more than a century.
You see, in 1891, the Sisters of Mercy opened St. Joseph’s Hospital on the north side of University Avenue between Seventh and Eighth. The San Diego Historical Society has a great photo of the four-story hospital, which stood where FedEx and Chipotle are now. The surgery annex we’re talking about today was a separate building located on the east side of the block.
Some years later, they actually picked up the building and moved it across the street to its current location on the southeast corner of Eighth and University. St. Joseph’s Hospital would eventually become the modern day Scripps Mercy Hospital on Washington. (Feel free to correct us if we mixed any of that up—the Googled history is a little fuzzy for us.)
Last month, San Diego Reader reported that the historic landmark would be saved after appearing on the Save Our Heritage Organization’s Most Endangered List.
All these years later, the building is currently undergoing a major restoration and will open early next year as a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant called Robata JINYA. Scaffolding recently came down to reveal the new grey and maroon color scheme.
It may look like the inside has barely been touched, but crews have been restoring the building all summer. They’ve nearly finished framing out the new space and have been busy replacing support beams that have held the building together for a century.
The original Robata JINYA opened in 2006 in Japan, and in 2008, they opened their Los Angeles location. That West Hollywood location gets pretty solid reviews, so we expect the Hillcrest version to do well. Check out the online menu for a peek at what’s to come.
The adjacent building, also part of the property and formerly an extension of the main Kelly’s Treasures space, seems to remain untouched at this point.
In May, San Diego Eater reported that the Japanese restaurant group would be bringing its JINYA Ramen Bar concept to the property, suggesting that it would be going into this small space at 815 University Avenue. Months later, we know they’re definitely bringing Robata JINYA to the main building next door, but we’re unclear on plans for the smaller building. We’ve also heard that it may be demolished altogether.
It’s great to see this part of University Avenue getting a hip, new restaurant. Now, if we could only get AT&T to clean up its monstrosity in the middle of the neighborhood.
Watch as the historic building continues to be adapted for its new use. By next spring, it should be fully preserved and back in action.