BO-beau Kitchen + Bar sits on West Point Loma Boulevard in Ocean Beach, but once you walk in, you’re transported to a beautiful cottage in a small village in the South of France. There’s a roaring fireplace with string lights dangling from the ceiling, and lots of wood and stone. Wine bottles lay in straw beds lining the walls.
But honestly, what does BO-beau actually mean? According to general manager Luna (who goes by her first name only), “BO-beau equals boheme beautiful. The phrase was originally inspired by the Paris Chatelet area, where old warehouses in the meat-packing district were vacated in the late 1960s to create the Pompidou Art Museum. Then, the warehouses were slowly refurbished into expensive lofts. These were thought of as being owned by artsy people, but most artists couldn’t afford them. They could only be purchased or rented by rich artists, so that’s where the original BOBO name came from — Bourgeois Boheme.”
But the name comes from more than just a page in history.
“We were also inspired by the building itself and, of course, there was the inspiration of Thee Bungalow, The Belgian Lion and the Third Corner,” Luna continued. “This location has a rich history of serving French, European and continental foods. Phillipe Beltran, a native Frenchman who designed the restaurant, was instrumental in making it a cozy little place to gather with friends and family. He scoured flea markets across the world and his own family farms to make it feel warm and cozy.”
BO-beau Kitchen + Bar has been a mainstay in Ocean Beach since 2010, and the owners originally chose the location because of what they perceived as the character of OB. “We love OB,” Luna said. “It is an amazing community that is all about family and love. It is evident all day, every day. We just wanted to be a part of that energy. We have tried to embody the spirit of this eclectic community.”
The most popular items on the menu include Brussel sprouts, boeuf bourguignon, steak frites, mussels and French onion soup, along with all of the fish dishes. The place is part of the Cohn family of restaurants, and Luna says David and Lesley Cohn keep a pretty light — not tight — grasp on controlling the direction of the cuisine. “They encourage loads of creative freedom in each of their restaurants. We get to decide all menu items. We hire all team members, most of whom live in OB. We listen to the feedback of our guests and try to become a better restaurant every day.”
Most customers come from OB, Point Loma and La Jolla — sometimes even Los Angeles, she said.
The biggest challenge — and the biggest victory — for the restaurant has been one and the same. “The history of this building is vast,” Luna told Point Loma-OB Monthly, “and we were concerned that the community would not welcome the change when we closed Thee Bungalow, which was a renowned restaurant for 40 years. However, we have been blessed from Day 1 to be embraced by the community. We will be 10 years strong in December and we hope to continue serving our community for many more years to come.”
— BO-beau Kitchen + Bar is at 4996 W. Point Loma Blvd., Ocean Beach. Dinner service starts at 4:30 p.m. Les Speciaux (delicious specials) are offered Sunday-Thursday. Bistro Classics are $18-$33. Also on the menu are appetizers and boards, soups and salads, woodstone oven flatbreads, moules and frites, and pasta dishes. You can call (619) 224-2884 an hour ahead of opening to be put on the waitlist. cohnrestaurants.com/bobeaukitchenbar