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North Park stroll

Business changes along University Avenue

Tobacco Rhoda's closed down in June — good riddance, say Tobacco Rhoda's former neighbors.
Tobacco Rhoda's closed down in June — good riddance, say Tobacco Rhoda's former neighbors.

Tobacco Rhoda’s dive bar closed down in June 2016. The bar had reportedly been a problem in the neighborhood for years. Artist Sam Ballard, who had a studio behind the bar for eight years, described the area in 2015 as dangerous and gang-ridden. Ballad cited vandalism on his artworks and graffiti tagging by gang members as reasons for leaving the area.

Foodie and ex-bartender Jonny Donhowe took a chance on the “sketchy” and rundown area in January 2015, opening a small business called Lucky Dutch Juice Co. at 2581 University Avenue, two doors west of Rhoda’s. Donhowe said on November 7 he was glad to see Tobacco Rhoda’s close down. “It was the best thing that ever happened here,” he said. “The drug dealing and other crime ended.”

Between the closed bar and Lucky Dutch is Courier Collective, at 2589 University Avenue, a delivery service using bike messengers, including cargo bikes for large packages. That company isn't new to the street, as they opened about "a year and a half" ago, according to a person who answered the phone.

Meanwhile, Crystal View Vinyl Works & Remodeling moved into a storefront at 2516-A University Avenue in September 2016. A taco shop and cell-phone store had previously rented the space.

Heading east, Pizza Republic will open in summer 2017 at 2726 University, right next to Breakfast Republic. Both are owned by restaurateur Johan Engman, who also owns Fig Tree Café's three locations and is opening a Breakfast Republic in Encinitas.

Some North Park businesses have crashed and burned. Al Reef Mediterranean Restaurant, at 2835 University, suddenly shut down on October 31, according to a Yelp comment, and their sign was removed. I had lunched there October 24 (on an excellent $7 chicken Caesar sandwich with fries), and their large space was almost devoid of customers.

At 2828 University, suite 102, SD City Homes, a property-management company, has closed permanently per a sign outside its doors. No other information was available.

Heading further east, a vacant-for-years storefront at 3020 University still awaits a lessee. It was cleaned up and painted recently, so it’s not such an eyesore. A few years back an Irish pub was planned for the location, but that bar opened in Hillcrest instead (Oscar Wilde’s Irish Pub).

In the next block, at 3102 University, the Lady of the Lake store sold new-age books and gifts for many years. It closed, and Nomad Donuts at 4504 30th Street is remodeling this larger space for a spring 2017 opening. The Reader’s Ian Anderson liked their offerings when he wrote about the donut café two years ago.

Meanwhile, the former Wang’s Restaurant space at 3029 University is up for lease again. Apparently that sale fell through, so it came out of escrow.

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Tobacco Rhoda's closed down in June — good riddance, say Tobacco Rhoda's former neighbors.
Tobacco Rhoda's closed down in June — good riddance, say Tobacco Rhoda's former neighbors.

Tobacco Rhoda’s dive bar closed down in June 2016. The bar had reportedly been a problem in the neighborhood for years. Artist Sam Ballard, who had a studio behind the bar for eight years, described the area in 2015 as dangerous and gang-ridden. Ballad cited vandalism on his artworks and graffiti tagging by gang members as reasons for leaving the area.

Foodie and ex-bartender Jonny Donhowe took a chance on the “sketchy” and rundown area in January 2015, opening a small business called Lucky Dutch Juice Co. at 2581 University Avenue, two doors west of Rhoda’s. Donhowe said on November 7 he was glad to see Tobacco Rhoda’s close down. “It was the best thing that ever happened here,” he said. “The drug dealing and other crime ended.”

Between the closed bar and Lucky Dutch is Courier Collective, at 2589 University Avenue, a delivery service using bike messengers, including cargo bikes for large packages. That company isn't new to the street, as they opened about "a year and a half" ago, according to a person who answered the phone.

Meanwhile, Crystal View Vinyl Works & Remodeling moved into a storefront at 2516-A University Avenue in September 2016. A taco shop and cell-phone store had previously rented the space.

Heading east, Pizza Republic will open in summer 2017 at 2726 University, right next to Breakfast Republic. Both are owned by restaurateur Johan Engman, who also owns Fig Tree Café's three locations and is opening a Breakfast Republic in Encinitas.

Some North Park businesses have crashed and burned. Al Reef Mediterranean Restaurant, at 2835 University, suddenly shut down on October 31, according to a Yelp comment, and their sign was removed. I had lunched there October 24 (on an excellent $7 chicken Caesar sandwich with fries), and their large space was almost devoid of customers.

At 2828 University, suite 102, SD City Homes, a property-management company, has closed permanently per a sign outside its doors. No other information was available.

Heading further east, a vacant-for-years storefront at 3020 University still awaits a lessee. It was cleaned up and painted recently, so it’s not such an eyesore. A few years back an Irish pub was planned for the location, but that bar opened in Hillcrest instead (Oscar Wilde’s Irish Pub).

In the next block, at 3102 University, the Lady of the Lake store sold new-age books and gifts for many years. It closed, and Nomad Donuts at 4504 30th Street is remodeling this larger space for a spring 2017 opening. The Reader’s Ian Anderson liked their offerings when he wrote about the donut café two years ago.

Meanwhile, the former Wang’s Restaurant space at 3029 University is up for lease again. Apparently that sale fell through, so it came out of escrow.

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Comments
3

Since moving to Palm Springs two years ago, I really enjoy reading articles like this about one of my favorite neighborhoods in SD. NP is so ripe for infill. I look forward to seeing the changes on my next visit. Keep the updates coming.

Nov. 13, 2016

Yes, NP is on a roll. The only drawback is that house prices are going through the roof, and rental rates are way up, too. I read recently that La Quinta [in the Coachella Valley] houses are still at semi-reasonable prices (much less than NP).

Nov. 13, 2016

11/14/2016 update: Things change so fast these days. North Park Breakfast Company will open next year at 3131 University (where there once was a vegan cafe). And I haven't heard what might go into the former church space at 3117 University. Hopefully NOT another craft beer place.

Nov. 14, 2016

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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