Madam Bonnie’s Opens in Historic Gaslamp Quarter Spot

The Gaslamp Quarter has welcomed a new restaurant and bar into one of their oldest and most interesting buildings
Madam Bonnie’s Opening in Historic Gaslamp Quarter Spot
Photo: Official
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Now open on Market Street, Madam Bonnie’s has taken up residency on the ground floor of what used to be known as Hotel Lester. Around 6,000 square feet, the space is divided into two rooms. The first is a smaller, intimate, and a quieter family setting with a few booths, tables, a small bar, and seating against the window to overlook the busy main street. With an open kitchen, guests will be able to watch chefs and line cooks prep, roast, and plate their dishes.

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The second room covers most of the venue with an open plan dining room complete with a crushed velvet booth that runs the length of the wall, the Gaslamp’s longest bar (42 feet), a DJ booth, a VIP hidden booth, and a relaxed lounge area. Madam Bonnie’s pulls inspiration for interior touches from the 20’s and 30’s with gilded bar chairs, copper bar tops and finishes, green glass chandeliers and pendant lights, and wallpaper and tiling that makes you feel like you’re in the Great Gatsby.

The Hotel Lester, previously the Brighton Hotel, expanded in 1915 with 23 rooms for tourists visiting the Panama-California Exposition. Sometime between 1921-1923, Bertha “Bonnie” White moved to San Diego in hopes of opening a “respectable” brothel. During her time as the “proprietress” of the hotel from 1930-1940, Bonnie’s business in Hotel Lester thrived. It was reported that there was a wire or creaking mechanism under the 13th step to alert ladies and guests upstairs of police raids, something that everyone but police officers were aware of! In 1940, a new police chief was elected to office who did not take kindly to her business and promptly shut it down. By 1978, Hotel Lester was owned by Marilyn and Eugene Marx who were local philanthropists and Gaslamp restoration supporters.

The food at Madam Bonnie’s is comprised of protein-driven plates, like Crispy Skin Porchetta, Prime Rib, Garlic & Thyme ½ Organic Chicken, salads, and sides that perfectly compliment a hearty meal. Libations, which will be named after iconic women from the 20’s – 40’s such as Emilia Earhart, Valentina Ramirez, and Clara Bow, will be made with vodka, bourbon, or gin, in addition to a variety of wines and daily selection of draft beers.

Madam Bonnie’s officially opened on June 1st, and is located at 411 Market Street, San Diego CA 92101.

Lisa Hay

Lisa is a staff reporter for What Now Media Group. She covers new restaurant, retail, and real estate openings across all of our markets. A true foodie, this Air Force veteran has lived all over the world — from Aviano, Italy to Nairobi, Kenya — but her favorite spot is NOLA for its rich history, architecture, culture, and of course, its good eats.
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