New GM, Chef ready to enhance Inn at Rancho Santa Fe


By Kathy Day

Gordon MacMitchell has spent the past five weeks getting the lay of the land at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe and in the surrounding community.

That’s because, as the new general manager, he’ll be the man on the spot as the renovation of guest rooms gets under way and as they prepare a new look and menu for the restaurant under Todd Allison, who starts next week as executive chef after two years at Anthology.

They’ll replace Kerman Beriker, the general manager for the past eight years, and his son, John, who was the executive chef.

“JMI (the new owners) has great plans, none of which will intrude on the historic nature of the property,” MacMitchell said. “They want to give it its luster back.”

With 33 years in the hotel industry, MacMitchell worked previously with Benchmark Hospitality International, which is managing The Inn for JMI Realty. The firm, owned by Padres owners John Moores and Rancho Santa Fe resident John Kratzer, acquired the 21-acre property earlier this year with Siguler Guff & Co.

MacMitchell was previously associated with JMI when he ran the Omni Hotel adjacent to Petco Park and, most recently, was general manager at Estancia La Jolla. He’s worked other places locally, including the Hotel Del Coronado and L’Auberge, as well as in Hawaii and Washington state, with a lot of time spent troubleshooting at various properties, he said. He and his wife, a teacher, live in south Carlsbad. They have two grown children, 26 and 29.

MacMitchell is also an accomplished runner, who last competed in 2005 when he was working in Hawaii. While in high school and college at Chico State he ran 20 miles a day; today he still runs five miles a day.

“I’ve been doing at least that religiously for the last 20 years,” he said.

Acknowledging he’s still in a bit of a learning curve, he said one of the goals of the new owners is “to embrace the community.” They’ve already started working with the RSF Education Foundation and are looking for a strong connection to the RSF Community Center and RSF Garden Club, among other local organizations.

He says he’s excited to be working at The Inn, which is similar to Estancia in that both have similar architecture and a lot of indoor-outdoor space. As the renovation moves forward, he said, that space will be even more of an asset.

The work will start in “earnest” in October and should be completed by May 2013, MacMitchell said. All of the suites will have a “starlit nostalgia” theme and the other guestroom-cottages will show off “country elegance.”

In addition, the pool and meeting areas, including the Azalea Lawn, will be enhanced and opened up and the bar will be connected to the lobby so they have a lobby bar, he added. Plans also call for putting in a full-service spa, something MacMitchell says is needed with a destination hotel like The Inn.

The restaurant will be “reconcepted” with more focus on the terrace area. That’s where Allison comes in. Having just cooked his last meals only a few days before at Anthology, he was busy attending meetings this week with JMI’s team and MacMitchell to start working on menus and the new direction.

A native of Coronado who attended culinary school in Scottsdale, Allison trained under James Boyce at the Phoenician and Loew’s Coronado Bay Resort. He was executive chef at Hilton Checker’s in Los Angeles until moving to Anthology. He also spent time working with Michael Mina as sous chef at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point and as chef de cuisine at Bollinger’s in Laguna Beach.

“He’s a very accomplished chef,” MacMitchell said.

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