Celebrity-run International Smoke restaurant closes in Carmel Valley

Less than three years after opening as a premier flagship restaurant in the One Paseo mall in Carmel Valley, International Smoke Del Mar closed its doors for good on Thursday.

In a brief statement, the restaurant’s parent company, MINA Group, said the pandemic was the cause of the closure of the 6,200-square-foot, 228-seat Carmel Valley restaurant. But the company hopes to return to San Diego with a different concept.

Founded by Michelin-starred San Francisco chef Michael Mina and acclaimed cookbook author Ayesha Curry, International Smoke is a chain of globally inspired, upscale, wood-fired barbecue restaurants. Its remaining locations are in San Francisco and Las Vegas. A Houston site closed in December 2019 after a year of operation.

International Smoke’s Truffle Whipped Potatoes.

(Courtesy of MINA Group)

“Since the start of the pandemic, business has dropped significantly and it really saddens the team to make the difficult decision to close the doors. MINA Group remains involved in the market, however, and will continue to seek opportunities to find another home for a concept that will return to San Diego in the future,” the company said in a statement.

MINA Group temporarily closed all of its locations in March 2020 when the pandemic arrived. It has moved to a take-out-only service, offering limited items from its regular menu as well as two ghost kitchen concepts: Tokyo Hot Chicken and Bourbon Burger Bar. In February 2021, the local location reopened its dining patio and began offering happy hour and other specials. But the restaurant was never able to regain the momentum it had built before the pandemic.

Mina and Curry, who is married to NBA superstar Steph Curry, told the Union-Tribune on a 2019 conference call that they met in 2015 through a mutual friend and determined that they had a mutual love for barbecue and global cuisine. International Smoke started as a pop-up concept and expanded into restaurants a few years later. The menu offers a mix of American, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes.

International Smoke was located at 3387 Del Mar Heights Road, Building 1, San Diego.

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