Business: Fire Horse
Address: 3023 Juniper Street, San Diego, CA 92104
Interview, Writing and Photography: Bonnie Nicholls of South Park Scribe
Still, she put in an offer that night. The next day, while driving on Highway 101, she found out from her broker that several others were bidding on the property. So the game was on, with offers and counter offers. Still, she beat out everyone else. By four minutes, or so the broker told her.
"I'm a very careful person," Diana said. "I usually take my time. But the deal was completed in less than 24 hours. I've never done anything like that that fast. It was scary. A week before we opened, I was doubting myself. Why did I do this?"
Why, indeed. Can it be because South Park is a hot property?
A Seasoned Restaurant Owner
Diana is no rookie to the restaurant business. She and her eight siblings, of Nine Dragons, Inc., have run House of Nine Dragons Restaurant in Bonita for 31 years. Their South Bay eatery is a traditional "old-school" Chinese restaurant, she said, with dishes like cashew chicken, broccoli beef and chop suey. It's been around so long that they've seen multiple generations of customers come through the doors.
The new South Park restaurant, on the other hand, is a different concept, and therefore required a unique name. She credits one of her sisters with the winning idea. Diana's family name is Ma, which means horse. And it just so happens that 2014 is the year of the horse. Add "fire" to "horse," and that's one powerful name.
What They Serve Now…and in the Future
Diana's family is tricultural. She was born in the United States, along with her brothers and sisters, but they grew up in Tijuana. "My dad was the best tamale maker ever," she said. Her family speaks three languages, and eats Mexican, Chinese and American food at home.
So it should come as no surprise that Fire Horse brings different cuisines together under one roof. Fire Horse serves pan-Asian food, which means dishes from different Asian cultures, not cuisines that have culinary influences on each other, like fusion. So you'll find authentic Japanese sushi, yakisoba and tempura, Korean bibimbap, and some of their top Chinese dishes from their Bonita restaurant.
Once everything is settled, Diana wants to offer special menu items, from lotus soup to steamed fish. "You get to try different things when you're not a franchise." She also will offer boba drinks, which are made of tea, milk and tapioca.
Her family's vision for Fire Horse is "to be the go-to place when you want something good and healthy, a family place," Diana said. When diners come to Fire Horse, she wants them to feel comfortable and welcomed, like they're at a family friend's house.
She herself has experienced South Park hospitality. "We're happy to be here," she said. "I'm just amazed at how friendly everyone is."
That's because here in South Park, we make new businesses feel comfortable and welcomed, too.