As Glasspar owner and chef Rob Wilson explains, the restaurant is an “elevated classic American seafood hall.”
But what exactly does “elevated” mean?
“Elevated is being thoughtfully presented. There’s a thought process into the service,” Wilson says. “Being friendly and knowledgeable, but not being obtrusive or rude. Having a smile at the front door from a hostess right when you walk in, greeting you, to the bartenders saying good night as you walk out the restaurant.”
Servers can recommend wine pairings for meals and explain the food, putting diners at ease.
That commitment to quality earned Glasspar the most awards in the Best of Dana Point contest this year, as voted on by Dana Point Times readers. Glasspar received eight awards in total—three Gold Lanterns for Best Seafood, Wine Selection and Chef, and five Silver for Best Appetizers, Bartender, Brunch, Margarita and Restaurant for Outdoor Dining.
As for the food itself?
“It’s kind of East Coast style brought to the West Coast,” says Wilson, who grew up in the local area. “We pride ourselves on seasonal ingredients. We change the menu three times a year.”
Glasspar also aims to source sustainable food.
“We focus on local tuna, swordfish, white seabass when it’s in season,” Wilson says. “Sourcing stuff from Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands to Baja California is kind of the triangle I work within.”
Glasspar also has a 12-seat oyster bar.
“We source our oysters from a number of different farm-direct (sources),” Wilson says. “We order oysters every day. One of the things I’m not ashamed of saying is we’re not afraid of running out of something, because if we run out, it sold. It comes in fresh the next day.”
People like seafood, because it’s healthy, Wilson says.
“With the right preparations and ingredients, it’s flavorful,” he says. “Seafood appeals to people, because we’re by the ocean. When people are by the ocean, they think of seafood.”
Glasspar opened in December 2019. As Wilson notes, it started up three months before being forced to close because of the COVID-19 shutdown. Fortunately, it continued to draw in customers with its large patio after being allowed to reopen, as outdoor dining became a popular option because of restrictions on indoor dining at the time.
“We actually turned our oyster bar into a seafood market during COVID,” he says. “Then we reopened. We were very well-received by the community. The momentum has been moving forward. We’ve been very well supported.”
The restaurant, though, continues to battle back from the impacts of the pandemic and subsequent challenges, including inflation.
“We’re still fighting our way out of it,” Wilson says. “This is not over. The impact globally from finding bottled water is now a huge problem. A lot of our wine vendors can’t buy bottles, because the bottle manufacturers are out of business.”
The food sourcing chain has also “completely changed,” he says.
“I’m paying over $100 for a case of eggs,” Wilson continues. “Two weeks ago, I was paying over $100 for a case of lettuce. Six months ago, I was paying almost $600 for a case of lobster. We didn’t waver and not serve that product anymore.”
Weekly offerings at Glasspar include oyster nights on Thursdays and regatta menus on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when customers can order three-course tastings for $35.
“We have brunch specials where we have $6 mimosas and $6 draft beers,” Wilson says.