At Herb + Eatery, a trendy Little Italy marketplace in San Diego, you can order a righteously healthy beet, quinoa, kale and Humboldt Fog salad and buy a bar of “Detox” soap, made from activated charcoal and French green clay.
A few blocks away at the sweets super-emporium Extraordinary Desserts, there are three versions of macarons: books to read about the colorful French treats; dainty, playful macaron earrings to wear; and of course, the actual cookies to eat.
And at Cucina Sorella, the popular neighborhood eatery in Kensington, before or after grazing through the Cal-Ital offerings, you can pick up some scented candles, kitchen towels or party supplies.
At these and a number of upscale restaurants around San Diego County, eating and shopping are both on the menu as retail components become an increasingly popular way to expand or enhance brand identity, elevate the dining experience and provide a modest boost to the bottom line.
Gastro-commerce leans toward the artisan, unique and somewhat pricey, with merchandise that’s mostly curated by the chefs/owners themselves and, accordingly, are an extension of their personalities, design sense and global inspirations.
“Right now it’s everything I’m into — Hawaii, beer, yoga,” said Karen Krasne, pointing to the walls at Extraordinary Desserts lined with shelves holding Balinese ceramics, diffusers with scents from the islands, novelty socks, greeting cards, makeup bags, cookbooks and barware.