You probably have a favorite in the Cohn Restaurant Group of 25 eateries throughout the county, including BO-beau kitchen + caché, The Prado at Balboa Park and Coasterra. Take note: Lesley and David Cohn, the couple behind the premier hospitality collective, didn’t set out to build an empire. In fact, their original idea was to open a snack shop. “David’s family owned Iowa Meat Farms, a grocery business, and we decided to open up a hamburger and hot dog walk-up-to-the-window-type place in the same shopping center,” Lesley recalls. That plan evolved into the full-service 1950s-style Corvette Diner and snowballed from there.
The life and work partners credit their success to a conservative pace for expansion and carefully considering each new venue’s neighborhood. “We look at the mix of restaurants already there to figure out what’s missing, and we even invite neighbors to the space before finalizing it all,” says David, who handles the business aspect, while Lesley takes charge of design and decor.
At the moment, the Cohns are very busy with three openings in Hillcrest, including a new take on their popular French bistro, BO-beau, as well as a second outpost of Draft Republic in Carlsbad. Most exciting is ¡Libertad!, a tiny taco shop with a big heart; all profits are donated to local charities. “We’re giving back to the community that’s given so much to us,” says David. “We love what we do,” adds Lesley. “We’ll continue doing it until that ship has sailed.”
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