Renovated Prepkitchen Del Mar to re-open in September


By Claire Harlin

Prepkitchen owner Arturo Kassel said he will never forget the morning of Oct. 2 when he got a call from his corporate chef telling him his Del Mar restaurant was on fire.

“I was in a state of shock when it happened,” he said. “I know what someone must feel like after coming back to their home after a flood or tornado or fire. In some sense the restaurant is an extension of our home and it’s very personal for us.”

The restaurant has been boarded up and vacant since then, but Kassel, the CEO of parent company Whisknladle Hospitality, announced recently that construction on the 40-year-old building is wrapping up and the community can expect an opening the first week of September. Not only that, the restaurant’s owners have made the most of their misfortune, taking the opportunity to totally revamp the interior. The 1,650-square-foot restaurant is amid a $750,000 renovation.

“With the previous design, I think I didn’t do a great job in terms of functionality,” Kassel said. “The kitchen was too small to service the volume we were serving. Now we have a kitchen that can handle the volume.”

As far as the interior goes, Kassel said the change is going to be “night and day.” He said the style will resemble that of the Prepkitchen in Little Italy, which was nominated for the highly-coveted Orchid interior design awards.

“We are pretty confident we will get the Orchid,” he said. “The space is really magical, something we are proud of.”

The new design utilizes a lot of unique reclaimed materials to “create more of an experience,” Kassel said.

The construction company and designers hunted through salvage shops to find materials such as doors from an old French farmhouse.

“A lot of the design elements have their own story,” he said. “The space has a lot of character. It’s homey and warm. When you walk in you say, ‘Wow, this is great.’ You don’t know why but when you walk in you feel good.”

Kassel said insurance paid for most of the renovation, but it wasn’t “dollar for dollar.” The owners made the decision to invest more resources into the project than what was covered.

He said the fire started because a cleaning crew left the gas on under a pot of cooking oil in the middle of the night.

“On top of that, the fire suppression failed due to human error on the part of the installer,” he said, but did not offer further details because a lawsuit brought forth by the insurance company is still pending.

“We could have taken the insurance money and walked away,” he said. “But not opening back up was never an option.”

For more information on the restaurant, which has locations in La Jolla and Little Italy in addition to Del Mar, visit

  1. Prepkitchen Del Mar is located at 1201 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, 92014; 858-792-7737.