The site where Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant now stands began as the "Theater Buffet and Bar" complementing the new Spreckels Theater which was built to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal in 1912. The interior’s Tiger oak and mahogany, brought “around the Horn,” still remain, along with the now “earth quaked” original tile floors.
When the Union-Tribune moved in across the street, the bar was renamed "The Press Room" and became filled with cigarette and cigar smoke and hard-drinking reporters for many years. However, when the Union-Tribune moved its offices to Mission Valley, business declined.
In 1983, Paul Dobson and some lawyer friends decided to capitalize on the absence of good restaurants available for downtown San Diego’s bustling business community and decided to open a San Francisco-style business lunch restaurant with a good happy hour. During the renovation, builders discovered a secret passageway that had connected the Spreckel’s Theater men’s lounge to the Press Room bar. One can only speculate how many theater-goers took advantage of that intermission perk!
Dobson’s officially opened in 1984, starting off with a heavily French-inspired menu, including our world famous, and still delicious, Mussel Bisque (over a million served). Dobson’s became an instant success with the legal and business communities, the "movers and shakers" of San Diego, as well as the theater crowd.
Over three decades later, Dobson’s continues to please. Chef Martin San Roman, born in Mexico City and trained in Paris, France, has brought an innovative touch to the menu with his unique combination of French-American-Baja cuisine while still preserving the essence of Dobson’s.
While you’re here, be sure to check out the enigmatic clock on the wall opposite the bar. Can you figure it out?
Finally, if you have a penchant for the supernatural, you should know that, from time to time, both employees and patrons have reported some bizarre occurrences and actual ghost sightings, especially in the late-night hours …