There is no cookie-cutter approach. As SS develops new projects, the neighborhood and customer base are key considerations in the venue’s physical design, menu planning, and philanthropic efforts.
SS is passionate about what it does—demonstrated by hands-on, day-to-day involvement, caring for its employees (offering fitness benefits, for example), and giving back to the communities in which they reside by supporting local non-profit organizations.
SS mixes professional and personal passions together, throws in some ice, creating one delicious cocktail. It’s how (and why) SS works, plays and succeeds.
Owner | Brendan Huffman
Brendan Huffman has had his hands in many bar and restaurant operations over the past 17 years, and is so excited to bring his experience and expertise to the Social Syndicate core venues. Brendan started his career in the bar and restaurant industry in Australia, and was immediately hooked.
He is a managing member of Bootlegger Plates and Pours in downtown San Diego, and an active shareholder of PB Shoreclub. He teamed up with Mina in 2013 to open Wonderland Ocean Pub in Ocean Beach, and it has since thrived from their combined knowledge and creativity. If all of that wasn’t keeping him busy enough, he opened the restaurant group Social Syndicate with other local bar and restaurant gurus to redefine the San Diego bar and restaurant scene. To date, the group manages eight core venues: OB Surf Lodge, Wonderland, PB Local, DT Local, Bootlegger, Rabbit Hole, Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs, Blue Water Seafood, as well as Resident Brewing.
Owner | Mina Desiderio
A San Diegan born to entertain and create innovative, delicious dining and drinking experiences, Mina opened The Local Eatery & Drinking Hole back in 2003. With very little money for marketing and advertising, Mina built the “drink local” brand through merchandise, events, and creative in-house graphics.
She has a big love for throwing a kick ass party and is the brainchild of Sing Dance Crawl (now in its 10th year and boasting over 1,500 attendees and four venues), as well as other awesome events that have allowed her to thrive in our industry off-season. Mina was a water polo player for 15 years, competitive swimmer as a child through college, and still tries to make time in the water a priority. She teamed up with Brendan Huffman to create Wonderland Ocean Pub and expand the brand of The Local to Pacific Beach. She is our resident food brainchild, keeping our menus flavorful and always changing.
Owner | Mark Huber
Mark embarked to San Diego 10 years ago on orders from the US Navy. While serving his country he experienced the true meaning of leadership, commitment and teamwork. This, along with the strict discipline the Navy instills on you, has given Mark the tools to better understand the business work which he has incorporated into his passion for the restaurant and bar industry. Upon exiting the Navy in 2010 he was introduced to Brendan Huffman, who helped him take his first steps back into the family business. In 2011 they opened Bootlegger Plates and Pours in East Village, San Diego.
As managing partner he has taken on every crucial aspect of operating this highly successful business. This would include, but not limited to marketing, permitting, budgeting and all human resource issues. Under his guidance as owner and operator, Bootlegger has prospered in a location that has had multiple failed businesses. Since Bootlegger’s opening, Mark has increased his portfolio by acquiring ownership in 4 more venues including Florent, Blind Burro, Pacific Beach Shore Club and The Rabbit Hole. Mark’s most recent involvement as an East Village resident has been assisting the East Village Association with fundraising and increased community awareness aimed at improving the social and economic development of the community.
Owner | Hoffman Leung
Hoffman, originally from Wisconsin, moved to San Diego in 2003 after graduating from UW-Madison. Once here, Hoffman quickly integrated himself into the San Diego downtown restaurant scene; a natural fit since his family owned restaurants growing up. Saving every penny of what he made as a bartender, Hoffman seized an investment opportunity with Pacific Beach Shore Club. This step into ownership also led to a budding friendship and subsequent business partnership with fellow investor Brendan Huffman.
With Brendan’s help and guidance, Hoffman has expanded his reach in the San Diego restaurant scene with ownership in nine different venues across San Diego County. If he isn’t in one of the venues, you can find Hoffman enjoying San Diego – soaking up the sun, playing in the Pacific, or off chasing his very active young twin boys.
Director of Operations | Drew Vick
Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Drew graduated with a BS in Hospitality and Restaurant Administration from Southwest Missouri State University. Drew has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, ranging from fast casual to fine dining. In the last 10 years, Drew’s experience includes General Management positions with the Panera Bread Company, Trailhead Brewing Company, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant.
Drew is the operational director of Wonderland, Local Downtown, PB Local, Rabbit Hole, OB Surf Lodge, Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs, and Blue Water Seafood. He will be contributing to focused efforts and can usually provide answers should someone else at either location not be available or be unsure.
Project + Media Maven | Daisy Santana
In 2013, Daisy moved to San Diego to escape the Bakersfield heat and to attend San Diego State University. Determined to make San Diego her home, she made the move with two goals: Finish school and land a kick-ass job.
During her years at SDSU, Daisy worked in a variety of media and communications positions. She worked with the public relations team for the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts as a Communications Assistant where she developed a comprehensive social media strategy for one of the largest colleges at SDSU and honed her digital storytelling experience by creating annual report videos. While a student she co-hosted an entertainment radio show and spent time in Belgium researching social media usage and habits of students. Interested in all things media, Daisy graduated with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies and joined the Social Syndicate #squad. Daisy works alongside her partners in crime, Rachel and Big Jon, to ensure each venue’s marketing needs are fulfilled and ROCK!
Retail + Admin Jedi | Rachel Barnes
Born and raised in California, Rachel made San Diego her home in 1997 where the hospitality industry came calling and she never looked back. Her flagship in SD began with Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery slinging drinks and eats as a cocktail server and bartender until moving into an Event Sales position where she closed out her 12 memorable years with the company.
Rachel was then offered an Assistant Sales position with Enlightened Hospitality Group supporting the growing local Searsucker and Herringbone brands until being absorbed into Hakkasan Group. With Hakkasan is where Rachel transitioned to an Executive Assistant until channeling her experience into a Human Recourses Business Partner, supporting 10 venues throughout the US, including restaurant and nightlife brands. With her ties to the hospitality industry she has now found a home with Social Syndicate where she specializes in Office Administration, Marketing and Merchandise all while contributing to growing the SS Brands and mastering her Jedi skills.
Creative Wizard | Big Jon Conklin
“Big Jon” Conklin is a California native born and raised in Ocean Beach, CA. With over 16 years experience in the hospitality industry; his passion for cultivating strong, meaningful relationships within the local community were the building blocks for his role today at Social Syndicate. Getting his start as a bartender at The Local Eatery & Drinking Hole, his customer connections and passion for the company’s one-of-a-kind culture were a perfect fit.
His energy is contagious and is a true believer that creativity and customer engagement is the key to success in his role. He has expanded to developing creative concepts, building brand awareness, community relations, venue event management and making sure Social Syndicate is known for throwing the best party in town!
Outside of work, Big Jon enjoys spending time with his wife and his cat, Taco. A former collegiate basketball player at Sacramento State, he still loves the game and has played throughout the US and Mexico.