Byline: Taylor Hill
SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Board of Port Commissioners approved a renovation plan and a lease extension for Tom Ham’s Lighthouse restaurant at its Aug. 14 meeting, assuring that the famous landmark on Harbor Island will have a home for years to come.
The new agreement gives the family owned business a 30-year lease with a 10-year option to extend.
Design plans for the proposed $3.5 million restaurant renovation are expected to be submitted to the Port of San Diego by March 2013, with the restaurant expected to begin construction later that year.
Opened in 1971, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse was developed by then owner Tom Ham, who took over what is now Shelter Island’s Bali Hai restaurant in 1953 — just two years after its opening. Ham’s restaurants have been San Diego mainstays and popular boater hangouts for decades.
Today, the restaurants are run by Shelter Island Inc., owned by Ham’s daughter Suzie Baumann and son-in-law Larry Baumann. The couple recently completed a renovation at the tiki-style Bali Hai, which has resulted in a 70 percent revenue increase, according to the Port of San Diego’s staff report.
“This is really one of the best sites on the tidelands on the Port of San Diego,” said Port Commissioner Dan Malcolm. “It’s such a pleasure to me that this redevelopment is coming from a family owned business like the Baumann family that has lived up to the standards that the port has set for development.”
The 21,000-square-foot steak and seafood restaurant will get structural improvements, an upstairs cocktail lounge, new windows, an outdoor dining area, a new bar and a promenade providing public access along the waterfront. The menu will be updated as well, to reposition the establishment as predominantly a seafood restaurant.
The addition of the public promenade and wedding venue is expected to reduce the size of the parking lot from its current 200 spaces to 191. Graham Downes Architecture, which has worked on several San Diego projects including the Bali Hai renovation, has been contracted to assist in the design of the new restaurant.
The lighthouse — the restaurant’s signature design feature — remains functional and is known as Beacon #9 on Coast Guard charts. The design plans will leave the lighthouse intact, and operational.