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Local landmark(?) restaurant repurposed as mausoleum

Pernicano’s in perpetuity

Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Pernicano’s in Hillcrest.
Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Pernicano’s in Hillcrest.

Somewhere in the afterlife, former local businessman George Pernicano is twirling his famous mustache and chuckling. And while the 25-foot bronze angel that now sits atop his former restaurant in Hillcrest suggests heaven, both his family and the larger Hillcrest community may have other ideas about his exact whereabouts.

“The family had already begun fielding offers for the property before Mr. Pernicano’s passing last week,” says probate attorney Paul Bearer. “But they did so without consulting me. I would have advised against it, for reasons that are now obvious.”

Indeed. Mr. Pernicano’s long-shuttered restaurant, which sits on a large and desirable chunk of central Hillcrest real estate, has long been considered both an eyesore and an opportunity for redevelopment. It’s still the former, but not so much the latter. When Bearer unsealed the will, he revealed a special deal that Pernicano struck with the city as thanks for his part in bringing the Chargers (of which he was a minority owner) from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961.

“It seems that zoning laws were even more fluid and fungible in those days than they are today,” notes Bearer. “Because Mayor Dail authorized George to turn his restaurant into his final resting place. I guess now everybody knows why he held onto it. I also guess he figured it was better to be remembered than loved."

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Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Pernicano’s in Hillcrest.
Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and Pernicano’s in Hillcrest.

Somewhere in the afterlife, former local businessman George Pernicano is twirling his famous mustache and chuckling. And while the 25-foot bronze angel that now sits atop his former restaurant in Hillcrest suggests heaven, both his family and the larger Hillcrest community may have other ideas about his exact whereabouts.

“The family had already begun fielding offers for the property before Mr. Pernicano’s passing last week,” says probate attorney Paul Bearer. “But they did so without consulting me. I would have advised against it, for reasons that are now obvious.”

Indeed. Mr. Pernicano’s long-shuttered restaurant, which sits on a large and desirable chunk of central Hillcrest real estate, has long been considered both an eyesore and an opportunity for redevelopment. It’s still the former, but not so much the latter. When Bearer unsealed the will, he revealed a special deal that Pernicano struck with the city as thanks for his part in bringing the Chargers (of which he was a minority owner) from Los Angeles to San Diego in 1961.

“It seems that zoning laws were even more fluid and fungible in those days than they are today,” notes Bearer. “Because Mayor Dail authorized George to turn his restaurant into his final resting place. I guess now everybody knows why he held onto it. I also guess he figured it was better to be remembered than loved."

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Comments
6

Since the electricity has been kept on all these years, cold storage won't be a problem!

Oct. 15, 2016

An experience or two with his Casa di Baffi 'way back in the 70's cured me of any good feeling for the old jerk. From time to time, one or the other of the U-T columnists, including Can-of-peas, would write a column praising the restaurants or ol' George. Over the years, I've expressed my opinion of him as a restaurateur. So, let's leave it there. Haven't those two properties been vacant for over a quarter-century? Maybe that qualifies them, on the basis of consistent disuse, as a graveyard of abandoned dreams. Is a mausoleum any different? The neighbors in that thriving, though funky, 'hood want to see something--anything--built on those properties, and one can't blame them.

The P family will want to get a fat price for the spot, even if it means putting George to rest in an ordinary cemetery. The family looks to really clean up on that 3% share of the Bolts, and this will just be frosting on their cake.

Oct. 15, 2016

The family was previously asking $12 million for that tear-down site. They may have to come down a lot, to unload it.

Oct. 16, 2016

It went for $8.5 million, so that's a decent chunk of change.

Oct. 27, 2021

Guess pizza is where the dough is made.

Oct. 16, 2016

And for some pizza joints, it's where money is laundered!

Oct. 28, 2021

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