Scott Marks 2:48 p.m., May 23
The smell of primer is what hits you first when you walk into Chez Loma, Coronado’s longtime French eatery (1132 Loma Avenue, 619-435-0661).
I’d heard it was closing.
Wrong. It has been sold, and the new owners, chef Alex Martínez and Andrés Girault are going to give the Carey-Hizar house a make-over. (Carey-Hizar were the original owners who built this in – wow - 1889).
And they’ll be opening in a couple of weeks, with pretty-much the same kind of high-end “French-inspired” dishes the old Chez Loma had, except with maybe a Spanish-Mexican touch here and there.
At least this is what Todd Fisher the Honey-Do Handyman carpenter tells me. Right now he’s making flower boxes for the freshened-up frontage.
“It’s kind of Back to the Future in there,” he tells me. “We ripped off the wallpaper and ripped up the carpets, and found fantastic old-growth Douglas fir floorboards and walls. They are as good as when they were put in, 123 years ago.”
Back in the kitchen, Alex Martínez and his assistant are peeling off generations of, well, gunk, from the huge vent fan hood.
“I’ll bet this is the first time someone’s done this since Chez Loma started, like three decades ago,” Alex says. The kitchen’s small, but big enough for three chefs, he says.
Funny to think of the house’s original staff working exactly in here, preparing meals for the family in, say, 1890.
I head out, looking all around me. Figure this might be the last time I actually get to see inside this cool historical joint. Todd and his helper Daniel are painting in creams and tans and olive greens and lots of varnish.
But then, hey hey! Alex tells me they’ll have a happy hour with, like, $5 wines and $5 tapas. Might be able to squire the lovely Carla here, at least to the Brazilian cherry bar in the lower room.
Jes’ don’t wanna get too much of a taste for the Good Life. Not till my ship comes in.
Carla says she’s not holding her breath.