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The Way, Way Back

Jeff Chon’s taking the legacy of the Detroit Bar and giving music-lovers and foodies a new place to call home.

Jeff Chon

Jeff Chon plays all the right notes when he talks about launching his new Costa Mesa restaurant, The Wayfarer, in the building that most recently housed the iconic Detroit Bar, known for a decade as one of the best live music scenes south of Los Angeles.

“When I was in college, I remember coming to the Detroit Bar and loving every minute of it,” says the 30-year-old restaurateur, who also operates The Alley in Newport Beach and Tabu Shabu in Costa Mesa. “I suppose all great things must come to an end. But at the same time, that end may actually be an evolution into something different. The Wayfarer is not necessarily the end of an era, but rather the continuation of a legacy.”

Chon is paying homage to the old dive by using the Detroit Bar’s talent buyer to plan the nightly musical offerings, which will range from the best emerging O.C. bands to DJs and karaoke. And he’s christened the platform where bands will play The Detroit Stage.

But in other ways, patrons will be transported far from Detroit once The Wayfarer opens in July. Earlier this year, Chon—who got his first culinary job as a host at The Cheesecake Factory in Redondo Beach—began remodeling the space that he says will have an industrial and rustic vibe. The new kitchen will produce simple food with a twist, such as chorizo-kimchee fried rice with pickled vegetables.

As a restaurateur, Chon says his specialty is creating a guestcentric atmosphere that contributes as much to the establishment’s success as do the food, interior design and music. The Wayfarer’s tagline, A House of Social Provisions, is meant to convey an atmosphere that’s like home: comfortable with plenty of food, drinks, music, family and friends. “It’s a place that provides sustenance in all aspects... for one’s journey along life’s road,” Chon says. “I truly love being able to bring a bit of happiness through food and drink—even just for a brief moment—in a random someone’s day.”

Chon’s Hots
Hanging with my girlfriend and French bulldog, great new food in O.C., the comeback of the one-piece bathing suit for women, libations with friends, trying to positively affect someone every day

Chon’s Nots
Road rage, shoes with toes, dieting, the disappearance of manners and chivalry