50 Year History of Mister A's Restaurant
Gift Cards
Join Our Team
Reservation Call: 1-619-239-1377

Mister A’s History


Our Story

The year 1965 saw the opening of the San Diego culinary favorite, Mister A’s. The name was derived from prominent California entrepreneur and restaurant founder, John Alessio. Mister A’s perched comfortably atop the newly constructed Fifth Avenue Financial Center, another one of Alessio’s creations.

In the mid-70s, Alessio announced that he would be adding lights to the previously-bare California tower at Balboa Park to create a more enchanting view for his diners.

Throughout every period in the restaurant’s history, many notable and famed guests have visited the restaurant, including President of Mexico, José López Portillo. Throughout the 70s and early 80s, the restaurant maintained its status as the go-to fine dining destination in San Diego.

During the mid-1980s, young restaurateur Bertrand Hug opened his restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, named Mille Fleurs. The restaurant was a huge success, and found itself in the national spotlight after a short time, eventually being voted into the “Top 25 Restaurants in America” by Gourmet Magazine in 1992.

Finally, after dozens of meetings with the Alessio family, in the fall of 1999 the Union Tribune announced that the following year would bring new ownership to the timeless San Diego restaurant. The following newspaper headline was “If You Close It, They Will Come.” The restaurant was sold out for the 4 months leading up its close in February of 2000 and in those final days, Bud Alessio had to hire armed guards, as guests successfully stole everything from silverware to artwork as memorabilia. The year 2000 was a leap year, and the restaurant finally closed its doors with a radio broadcast from the 12th floor on February 29th.

In 2013, Chef Stephane was awarded the California Restaurant Association’s Gold Medallion award for “Chef of the Year” for all of his accomplishments, contributions to the industry, and exquisite cuisine.

It opened its doors on May 17th despite the open criticism of the location, with major restaurateurs citywide warning that the building was too far away from the hotspot of downtown to ever be a success. Ramiro “Tommy” Tomicich from Old Trieste, the Ghios of Anthony’s Fish Grotto, and Ray Lubach of Lubach’s) all turned down the opportunity to manage the new restaurant themselves. Alessio remained undeterred, bringing Walter Broderick and Sarah Chase on to decorate and NYC maître d’, Giuseppe Valani.

In typical “Mister A” fashion, he tipped off the press and turned the lights on live on camera. Starting with this extravagant showing, the California Tower at Balboa Park has remained well lit every night since.

During the mid-1980s, young restaurateur Bertrand Hug opened his restaurant in Rancho Santa Fe, named Mille Fleurs. The restaurant was a huge success, and found itself in the national spotlight after a short time, eventually being voted into the “Top 25 Restaurants in America” by Gourmet Magazine in 1992.

During the 80s and 90s, Bertrand would make several visits to Mister A’s, whether it was for a cocktail to admire the view or for dinner. From the moment he first stepped foot on the 12th floor, he loved the location and longed for it to be his. That dream was on his mind for 15 years until he presented the idea of purchasing the restaurant to Mr.Alessio in 1994.

Bertrand immediately began construction and a transition was swiftly underway. The opening came on May 26th with a birthday party for Bertrand and Dean Spanos, who shares his birthday. With a completely new design and perspective, Mister A’s opened to a skeptical public. Despite the question of a new face for the iconic restaurant, it became a smash hit under Bertrand’s reputation, watchful eye, and unparalleled attention to detail.

The same year, Mister A’s was listed as one of the “Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in the US”, while its sister restaurant, Bertrand’s classic “Mille Fleurs” in Rancho Santa Fe was listed as “Top 100 Restaurants in the US.”

Despite Alessio’s meticulous planning, the success of Mister A’s grand opening was threatened by the little details. Just one hour before the restaurant was set to debut to a 250-person bash for Augie Ferlando and the American Tunaboat Association, the carpet was still being laid. On the heels of the last-minute touches, the party was a hit, and set off a long tradition with the local tuna industry. Less than a month later, it would be christened by the Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown.

Throughout every period in the restaurant’s history, many notable and famed guests have visited the restaurant, including President of Mexico, José López Portillo. Throughout the 70s and early 80s, the restaurant maintained its status as the go-to fine dining destination in San Diego.

During the 80s and 90s, Bertrand would make several visits to Mister A’s, whether it was for a cocktail to admire the view or for dinner. From the moment he first stepped foot on the 12th floor, he loved the location and longed for it to be his.

Finally, after dozens of meetings with the Alessio family, in the fall of 1999 the Union Tribune announced that the following year would bring new ownership to the timeless San Diego restaurant. The following newspaper headline was “If You Close It, They Will Come.”

In 2003, Bertrand brought on head chef, Stephane Voitzwinkler, previously of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Together, they have worked tirelessly to reinvent the cuisine and all offerings, including the addition of a bar menu, Happy Hour service, and brunch service, as well as an array of highly-praised Holiday menus.

Today, Bertrand, Chef Stephane, and General Manager, Ryan Thorsen are united in an effort to keep a classic dining experience fresh and exciting. For the restaurant’s 50th year anniversary, plans are grand for celebrations, promotions, and exciting changes to set off the next phase in the restaurant’s history and growth as an institution in downtown San Diego.

Welcome to Mister A’s and Mille Fleurs Gift Card purchasing store.

Our gift cards can be used at both of our locations. It’s the perfect gift for that someone special. Just fill in the requested information to complete your order. Purchases made over the weekend will not be processed until Monday as our office is closed on the weekends.

JOIN OUR VIP NEWSLETTER!

Get updated on the latest news, events and menus by signing up to our monthly newsletter.

  • Preferred Format * Required