The red house on 13th Street has gone through some changes over the years but continues to be restaurant. From K Pasta to Little Red Café to the latest Red House Kitchen (RHK) open since 2017 – which has now changed hands. RHK served breakfast and lunch and closed at 2:30 p.m. Alynn Silliman and Emmi Reiter who had been operating their restaurant, Neat Underground, from the Red House Kitchen location serving dinners Thursdays through Saturdays for the past year and a half, have taken over the location.
Neat Underground first started as a pop up restaurant until it found a home at the Red House Kitchen a year-and-a-half ago. Neat Underground changed its menu once a month and served rustic down home cuisine. Dinner was served on the back patio, but once COVID hit the restaurant switched to take out only.
Silliman was not always a chef; in fact she worked in sales for many years before a friend, who was a foodie, recognized her talent and encouraged her to pursue her calling. When her friend passed away, Silliman made changes. “I took [her passing] as a sign to go out on a limb and pursue my dream of being a chef,” she said.
Silliman had in mind to eventually open her own restaurant. Silliman is originally from a small town in western New York State but has lived in San Diego for 20 years. She first worked in the food industry at a wine and dessert restaurant owned by her sister in New York. Silliman, who is a self taught chef and is not professionally trained, has had success with her cuisine at Neat Underground and has a following.
Silliman originally began the partnership with RHK after she met its former owner Bethany Case. They met because Case’s son and Silliman’s niece attend the same school.
“When Bethany decided to close the Red House Kitchen we chatted about what I was going to do. I thought about it,” she recalled. Silliman decided to take over the business and continue to operate the RHK until the transition period was over and she could open her own restaurant.
Although RHK will be open through the rest of this week, the restaurant will close Thanksgiving week and will undergo some changes. It will reopen the following week with a new name and concept and a redesign of the space. Although she would not reveal a lot of information, Silliman said both RHK and Neat Underground will go away and the new restaurant will have a new name. She revealed that the outdoor patio facing 13th Street will be a café for breakfast and lunch while the back patio will be used for dinner once the pandemic will allow more seatings. The interior space, not much utilized until now, will be a market which offers grab and go sandwiches, soups and salads as well as produce and even flower cart.
In the transition period the restaurant has enticed customers with its New York style bagels from Big City Baking Co. and the most popular breakfast item is the Lox sandwich. “There’s nobody in South Bay that does Lox,” she said. Breakfast scrambles and seafood dishes are currently on the menu. Silliman has ben integrating what will be her new menu with the current one during this transition period.
Silliman plans on resuming the chef’s dinners with prix fixe menu paired with wine, an event she offered before the pandemic at the community table in the back patio for 12 people.
She and her business and life partner Emmi run the restaurant with a small staff. Silliman does a lot of the baking but also purchases from local artisans. She makes a point to buy from local farms like W.D. Dickinson Farm in National City.
“I was ready. I wanted to own a restaurant for a long time. I’m from a small town, IB is a small town,” she said. “I want this place to be where the community enjoys coming to, something unique. As IB grows I look forward to be part of it.”
Red House Kitchen at 775 13th Street will be open for breakfast and lunch the rest of this week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will reopen the week after Thanksgiving.