Red Circle Cafe – Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
4,800 square feet, capacity 400
Landing an opportunity to take over a prime street-level space on the ground floor of E Street Alley’s historic building, Michael Viscuso was inspired to create a Russian theme cafe after a three-week trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. Always hands-on with the design, old military swords and uniforms were shipped back as well as pre- and post-Stalin era artwork as part of his motif. Visualizing a Russian vodka bar hosting over one hundred different vodkas, and offering unique vodkas imported from his trip, Red Circle Cafe opened as a trend-setter in bringing specialty drinks, with professional mixologists crafting them, to San Diego. The emergence of exciting new fruit and flavor-infused vodkas spurred interest in all things vodka at that time and Red Circle set the standard. The historic building’s massive steel retro-fit x-beams were reimagined with suspended glass shelves to house Red Circle Cafe’s 100 vodkas from around the world.
The delectable appetizer and dinner menu favored lighter California cuisine as opposed to heavier Russian fare for this savvy urban crowd. Weekends showcased local DJ’s on a rotating basis giving them an opportunity to bring in their friends, expanding the business’ customer base at the same time. Red Circle Cafe was especially popular as a chic bar-lounge eatery in the neighborhood where people met prior to going to out to some of the other Viscuso-envisioned mega-venues like E Street Alley and On Broadway.