Union Kitchen & Tap boasts three separate dining areas, all of which share a propensity for reclaimed wood accents and modern furnishings. For folks who are strolling by the warehouse-door style windows that open onto the streets, the main dining room and bar invite all who pass to step into its inviting interior and tantalizing scents. Upon entering, the Oak Room beckons to the right, a quiet intimate room resembling the inside of an oak tree and the Dart Room hides in a cozy nook of the southwest corner of the floor. Look for the flashing vintage arrow to point the way
Meet the Owner – Eric Leitstein
Eric Leitstein is an avid businessman with every potential to build an empire. Born and raised in New York state, the young Leitstein—who took his first job as a bus boy at Tamarack Club in the Catskill Mountains—held little notion that he would one day found multiple thriving restaurants.
Attending the State University of New York, Leitstein received his bachelor’s degree of science with an emphasis in exercise physiology. While working toward this degree, Leitstein garnered early experience in the restaurant industry through employment at a variety of bars and eateries around New England. After graduation, Leitstein relocated to Miami, where he had his first encounter with entrepreneurship through the opening of an exercise prescription business and a health club partnership.
Leitstein settled into San Diego in 1990 and took a series of managerial positions at a number of the city’s best bars. After six years in management, Leitstein was confident that he had the knowledge to run his own establishment, and subsequently opened Canes in Mission Beach, a 12,000 square foot restaurant and live music venue. This led to ownership of further establishments in Los Angeles, Miami, and Colorado, and in 2008, Leitstein introduced the Pacific Beach AleHouse to San Diego.
Meanwhile, Leitstein discovered his soft spot for the beach community of Encinitas, where in 2010, he was able to purchase a large corner restaurant that had previously housed a popular Italian restaurant. He went forth in applying his design ideas to the rustically designed Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas in 2011. In the spring of 2014, he opened a second location called Union Kitchen & Tap Gaslamp.
Today, Leitstein oversees both Union Kitchen & Tap Encinitas and Union Kitchen & Tap Gaslamp, Pacific Beach AleHouse, as well as his fourth establishment, Sandbar Sports Grill in Vail, Colorado. He prides himself in providing unique dining and drinking destinations that include local flavors, signature cocktails and unique brews to satisfy locals and visitors alike.