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Empire Builder

By Ann Wycoff

Photography by Becca Batista

08.31.18

Deborah Krause is bringing to the San Diego restaurant scene the same energy she had as a Vegas nightclub entrepreneur.

Don’t be fooled by her self-described “all-American, girl-next-door” looks. Deborah Krause ran a $100 million portfolio as chief operating officer of Pure Management Group in Las Vegas, and her packed résumé includes major positions with Starwood, Starbucks and the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group. She created the thumping scene at Pure in Caesars Palace. Later, she and her team built nightclubs in the United States and Bahamas, and restaurants in Mexico City. “Especially as a mom and wife, my success was good for other women,” she says.

But the native Southern Californian has had her sights set on San Diego for some time. Owners of a strategic management company, A5 Group, she and her husband, David, recently purchased the Prep Kitchen portfolio and poached top Vegas talent: “Chef Joe Elevado was at Wynn Las Vegas winning awards and accolades.” He’s now chief culinary officer. “As entrepreneurs, we feel [Prep Kitchen] has room to grow and expand into other places, but we won’t run at it rapidly,” Krause says. While locals shouldn’t fear radical changes to the well-liked brand, the teams plans to refresh some of the popular dishes, and Elevado will add “a little Vegas flair,” such as presenting the s’mores dessert under smoke-filled glass domes for a little “ooh and aah” effect. 

What’s next? “My husband is interested in opening a boutique hotel in San Diego, and I want chef Joe to have a dream restaurant. We banter about it—what would it look and feel like. It’s fun to dream big and make those things happen,” Krause says with a smile. And undoubtedly she will.