Gilly’s Cocktails, the historic local dive bar in University Heights at 2306 El Cajon Boulevard, is getting ready to change ownership and eventually its name.
Erick Castro and Jacob Mentel, two former employees of San Diego’s Consortium Holdings hospitality group, are joining together to purchase Gilly’s Cocktails from its current owner, Martin Gill, who is retiring and seeking new proprietors who would keep it a neighborhood place, according to San Diego Magazine. The duo will assume ownership in mid-November and will eventually rename the business to Gilly’s House of Cocktails.
“After working [with Jacob Mentel] on this for several months now, it feels good to finally be able to share this incredible good news with all of you,” Castro said on his Instagram. “Although bringing a project like this to life has been a dream of mine for over a decade, I know that the hard work of bringing that dream to life has only just begun. Also, we understand that taking over a beloved institution such as this one carries great responsibility, and it is not one that we take lightly, which is why we are committed to not only honoring that legacy but also building upon that legacy and continuing it into the future.”
Once Castro and Mentel assume ownership, they will close the business for renovations for about a week or so to enhance the cocktail and spirits offerings, upgrade ice quality, hire and train new staff, and make minor interior updates and cleaning. There are rumors that the new owners might even bring in a couple of pinball machines. Employees of Gilly’s Cocktails have been given the opportunity to continue with the new owners as the business shifts in a different direction. Despite these changes, the new owners plan to keep the overall vibe and feel of the place very similar, except with newly updated products for today’s cocktail and spirits lovers.
“We are very fortunate that the space has some good bones and has been well taken care of, so we will only be doing some modest updates,” Castro tells What Now San Diego in an email. “We will also be getting some training done for the staff, both new and old, during that time. We are still waiting to hear back from the existing staff for a total headcount as to who will be staying on, but we are hoping that we can keep a few familiar faces behind the bar with us. Either way, we are excited to open our doors soon and start serving some drinks for the people in North Park.”