How San Diego’s Family-Run Restaurants Have Embraced the Wedding Market

by: Kristen Castillo

When David Cohn and his wife, Lesley decided to open a restaurant in the early 1980’s, they started out with a small diner.

Fast forward 36 years, and the couple, their children and their son-in-law, run the families’ 24 restaurants, all part of the Cohn Restaurant Group (CRG).

“It definitely is a family business,” Cohn says. “We’re locally based and we are working every day.” With restaurants in different price points, styles and menu offerings, ranging from steakhouses to waterfront fine dining to sports bars, each eatery is an “it” place to dine in San Diego and beyond. CRG has locations throughout San Diego, from the South Bay to Downtown San Diego, La Mesa and North County. They also have restaurants outside the county, including BO-Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap  in Long Beach and Hawaii’s Castaway Café and The Plantation House. “We wanted to have a collection of venues, each that were unique décor in so many ways in food and décor but had similarities to the CRG experience,” says Cohn.

Wow Weddings

Nearly all of these venues are wedding-ready too. “We believe even at a large banquet, you can still have an epic dining experience,” says Tracey Amernick, CPCE, VP of Event Sales for CRG, who leads the group that books and coordinates weddings and events.

Each venue is committed to providing couples and guests with quality food and exceptional service.

“We don’t have two weddings at the same time,” says Amernick, crediting CRG’s success to, “the energy of the team, the attention to detail in the food. It’s the mentality of providing absolute service.”

Cohn, who values the ideas of hospitality and customer service, agrees. “We’re proud of our team, not only do they help people put together their weddings, but execute the  events as well,” he says. “We’ve had many of the same people for a great number of years.”

Flexible Planning

Amernick and her team know how challenging it can be for couples to plan their wedding. That’s why they have a one-stop planning approach. “We decided to be almost like an in-house dining service,” she says. “So in the past, guests would need to contact all the locations individually and now they can reach out to us through the home office. My team can check multiple venues for them, we can suggest multiple things, so it’s easy and userfriendly to the couples.”

During calls, they can suggest multiple venues to fit a potential client’s needs for location, budget, type of food, atmosphere, capacity, etc.

Couples also love the flexibility of hosting their event at a CRG venue. Each restaurant is open to customizing the client’s celebration. For examples, standard catering menus are just a starting point.

“When you think of how busy everyone is and the time involved in checking things, when you can talk to one person on who has a global understanding of the whole company, that’s a huge benefit,” says Amernick.

“Our chefs are always up for a new adventure,” says Amernick, noting many of the restaurants’ chefs frequently change menus to keep things interesting and tasty.


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