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.