A native of London, England and previous resident of New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Tracy Borkum brings an international sensibility to her business concepts as Principal of Urban Kitchen Group. Tracy is nationally recognized for her CUCINA collection of restaurants, which showcases freshly inspired cuisine and imaginatively designed interiors. Equally talented in the design realm, Borkum has parlayed her expertise into a unique ‘restaurant to retail’ format offering up for sale everything within her venues—from wine and home accessories to furnishings and lighting fixtures. After fielding countless requests from dining patrons seeking her style secrets, Borkum debuted her online design marketplace, the Urban Kitchen Shop, which gives her a custom platform to showcase her finds.
Over the course of two decades in the industry, Tracy has earned a reputation as an innovative thinker and risk taker. In 1995 Borkum opened her first venture, the iconic Kensington Grill, to rave reviews and soon followed with her second restaurant, Chive, which she opened in 1999 in downtown San Diego. In 2004 she launched her own catering company, Urban Kitchen Catering, which today partners with some of the highest profile corporations and most elite venues in the area. In 2005, Borkum raised the local culinary bar with Laurel, her wildly successful fine dining venue that earned a Mobil Four-Star rating under her reign—the only restaurant at the time to be honored with this award in the city of San Diego.
In 2009, with multiple venues already under her belt, Borkum made waves when she reacted to the slowing economy and shuttered Laurel, quickly turning the location around with a four-week remodel. The visionary reopened the space as CUCINA urbana, a California-inspired Italian restaurant and wine shop, forever changing the restaurant scene in San Diego. This new value-driven concept offered guests an approachable menu with locally sourced ingredients and fine-dining service in a strikingly visual environment—without breaking the bank. The restaurant was an instant success and is still booked to capacity every night of the week.
Borkum soon made her Orange County debut with the opening of CUCINA enoteca Irvine, which launched in December 2011 at the Irvine Spectrum Center. CUCINA enoteca Del Mar then opened in late 2013 at the recently renovated Flower Hill Promenade in northern San Diego. With more west coast locations slated for the coming years, her latest addition to the collection, CUCINA entoeca Newport Beach, opened at Fashion Island in August 2014.
Borkum has been acknowledged as one of San Diego’s top restaurateurs, presented with a 2004 San Diego Women Who Mean Business Award by the SD Business Journal and a 2006 and 2012 San Diego Magazine’s “50 People to Watch”. She is the co-chair of San Diego Restaurant Week and sits on the Executive Board of the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association. She was voted “Restaurateur of the Year” in 2007.
As a successful female entrepreneur in a male-driven industry, Tracy has always remained a steadfast women’s advocate in both life and business. Each year, she donates her time, resources and staff’s talents to numerous local and national charities. Her commitment to the growth and success of San Diego as a recognizable dining destination is paramount to her company’s philosophy.