Strip mall on the corner of Park Boulevard and El Cajon Boulevard,
North Park/University Heights
A two-show performance by pop singer Jewel months before the release of her first album was not enough to save the WikiUp coffeehouse on Park Boulevard. It gave way to the Thomas Paine coffeehouse, the name of which felt a trifle forced. Eventually, Thomas Paine surrendered to Buddha Head, an antiques/furnishings store; soon after that, the restoration began. Down came the black corrugated metal facing, which had served as backing for the bright white lettering of the two coffeehouses' signage, revealing a Deco-esque storefront that wanted little more than paint to shine again. (The current color scheme of tan highlighted by pale yellow and blue on the detail work isn't riveting, but it is pleasant.) Up went a handsome solid awning whose unexpected rigid lines accented the retro-modernity of the structure (this wonder of strip-mall design began life as a Piggly Wiggly supermarket). Many of the other tenants remain, but the only visual reminder of the days when Jewel came to play is the hand-painted "Haircuts: $6" sign in the barbershop window.