Following the success of Rimel’s Rotisserie, the owners decided to open a sister restaurant, Zenbu, near the La Jolla property. Zenbu was opened 2 blocks away from Rimel’s Rotisserie, and the two joints shared a tank where fish could be stored and plucked when preparing meals. The new restaurant complemented Rimels’ long-standing tradition of offering quality fresh food in their restaurants. This concept was unprecedented in the region and saw the restaurant attract many visitors from across California annually. When the Rimels first came up with this idea, nobody was preparing their fish fresh from a tank in La Jolla, and even in the broader Los Angeles region. Unlike La Jolla’s Rimel’s Rotisserie, which focused more on chicken-style dishes, Zenbu restaurant leaned more towards sushi-style dishes. Zenbu differed from other Japanese-style restaurants in San Diego in that it allowed people to enjoy their sushi in a dynamic way at the restaurant’s premises instead of offering a takeout service. The restaurant was more geared towards an atmosphere where people could enjoy a conversation over a fine meal and some cocktails.
The lounge setup at Zenbu was quite relaxed, featuring Asian-inspired décor, candle-lit wooden tables, dim lighting, bamboo accents, accompanied by eclectic world beat background music. The restaurant opened every day from 5 pm serving two dining levels, comfy lounging corners, and a classic sushi bar located in the upper area. This concept became such a hit that Rimel launched a subsequent Zenbu joint in Cardiff, which also became a success.
At its height, the Rimel’s restaurant empire comprised 3 sit-down joints, a booth located at Petco Park, a butchery in La Jolla, and 2 Zenbu Sushi joints. La Jolla’s Zenbu joint was shut down in 2014, and in 2017, Cardiff’s Zenbu joint was merged with the Rimel’s. Rimel’s La Jolla butchery ceased operation from its physical location but continues to sell beef jerky products online. Rimel’s Rotisserie in Del Mar shut down, and the La Jolla location closed shortly after that in August 2018. Cardiff’s Rimel’s Rotisserie was the last of the Rimel-owned restaurants to close its doors to the public.
In today’s competitive food industry, where few restaurants make it past the 1-year mark, Rimel’s Rotisserie has proved the importance of having a sustainable business model. Although Rimel’s Rotisserie in La Jolla has since closed its door to the public, the serene atmosphere and delicious chicken-style meals will still be cherished by La Jolla and California residents. Rimel has been a true visionary and has redefined the concept of fresh-food dining in the California region. There is no doubt that he has set the trend for restaurants in the last three decades, and the move towards fresh foods will continue to gain influence even in years to come.