The 736-square-foot restaurant opened in 1962.
  • The 736-square-foot restaurant opened in 1962.
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When construction started in September 2016 in the Village Shopping Center parking lot east of the Jack in the Box, people were curious about what was coming to the center located at the northwest corner of Lake Murray Boulevard and El Paso Street.

As construction continued on the 0.28-acre parcel, it became evident that the new addition to the 4.8-acre center was a larger Jack in the Box. The 2159-square-foot eatery opened in January 2017, and people wondered about the fate of the 736-square-foot Jack in the Box that city planner Chis Jacobs said opened in 1962. The building valuation was $9000.

Aerial map showing future Starbucks site

The question about the building’s future was answered when two City of La Mesa panels approved proposals related to plans to demolish the older Jack in the Box and construct a 1616-square-foot building that would be leased to Starbucks. The design review board on February 27 approved parcel owner HF-HRI, LLC’s plan to construct the coffeehouse with a drive-through on the 0.43-acre parcel. Also proposed was a 300-square-foot outdoor seating area, an element that required a special permit. The permit application was on the planning commission’s March 15 agenda.

At the meeting, commission chairman Jim Newland (a historian and La Mesa Historical Society president) pointed out that the building wasn’t in the city’s Historic Resources Inventory. He asked if anyone was consulted about that. The staff report stated the applicant submitted “technical reports including a historic building assessment” and reports “available under a separate cover, have been reviewed and accepted by the staff.”


1980 Jack in the Box ad

1980 Jack in the Box ad

Lee told commissioners the building was structurally altered during the 1980s. That change included replacing outdoor seating with a glassed-in enclosure. (Another change, the removal of the Jack in the Box clown, was promoted in a 1980 commercial. After an announcer said Jack in the Box would be known for its “great new food,” the clown was blown up.)

When commissioner Michele Hottel asked why commissioners didn’t receive the review, Lee said it was “literally 100 pages.” Newland said in the future those documents should be sent electronically. Jacobs said the report concluded the building wasn’t a significant historic resource.

At the hearing, the only people signed up to speak were Hamo Rostamian, president of HRI Development, and architect Ken McKently. Both answered commissioners’ questions about issues including drive-through traffic. Patrons of the older Jack in the Box who entered the center at the Lake Murray Boulevard/Dallas Street signal drove behind the building where the menu was posted on a wall. Drivers then made a hairpin turn to place their orders. McKently said Starbucks patrons will turn right on Lake Murray Boulevard and then turn right to enter the drive-through line.

Commissioners unanimously approved the permit for outdoor seating “screened by [metal] guard rails, and partially shaded by umbrellas, awnings, and landscaping.” Starbucks estimated approximately 50 jobs will be created in “various capacities and shifts,” according to Rostamian’s December 20, 2016, letter to the commission. After the hearing, Rostamian said construction will start in the “next couple months” with the goal of completion in August or September.

According to staff reports, the center has two owners. The Chabra Trust owns two parcels totaling 3.9 acres; that land includes the Ross discount clothing store. The Mark Elbert Trust owns the 0.9-acre parcel northeast of Ross. Tenants include the Book Place and Partners Urgent Care Grossmont.

Details in this story were drawn from City of La Mesa staff reports, a March 17 email from associate planner Howard Lee, and a phone interview that day with senior planner Chris Jacobs.

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Ken Harrison March 18, 2017 @ 2:02 p.m.

That is an usually JBX design. Not many were built like that. Definitely not an original 1960s. I liked the ham sandwich in the commercial. Looks good. Bring it back Jack. BTW - Has anyone noticed Jack's TV Voice has recently changed. Its a new guy doing a very good impression of Jack, unlike the four comedians that KFC has tried to do the Colonel.


Liz Swain March 19, 2017 @ 4:15 p.m.

Thanks for the picture. Check out this YouTube of Jack in the Box Drive in the 1960s & 70s. There are several pictures of the building similar to the original Lake Murray Blvd. building, one at 1:15 minutes & two more around 1:29. I didn’t see all of the ads; it’s quite a trip down memory lane. I’ll have to check out Jack’s voice in the ads. I agree, that sandwich looks tasty.


dwbat March 18, 2017 @ 7:04 p.m.

Looks like a repeat with the burnt-coffee king. They replaced a closed-down Coco's in North Park with a drive-through Starbucks a while back. A lot of people miss the Coco's.


Liz Swain March 19, 2017 @ 4:51 p.m.


The La Mesa Cocco’s (Lake Murray Blvd and Baltimore) is also missed by residents. The building remains empty. A couple blocks away at the Kiowa Drive entrance to Lake Murray is a Starbucks. It’s busy, housed in a former Mexican fast food restaurant and 1.6 miles from the Village Shopping Center. Here’s the image of the Starbucks proposed for that site.


dana987 March 19, 2017 @ 10:39 p.m.

Thank you, Liz, for the image of the proposed Starbucks! I own the Book Place in the center and it's nice to see what's happening.


jennk March 20, 2017 @ 11:58 a.m.

While I'm glad that your Book Place has the potential for more customers as the site gets new tenants, I am very disappointed that the city would put yet another chain in, to make La Mesa further resemble Any Other City USA. Particularly since a small-business owned coffee shop just this week opened across the street.


Visduh March 20, 2017 @ 4:45 p.m.

If anyone wanted to keep that design, you would think it would be Jack in the Box. I think they called that design the "elephant's foot." As far as I knew, the first very few Jacks were made that way, and all of them were around San Diego. The design was meant for a drive-through, with a walk-up-window added as an afterthought. Oh yeah, California meant going everywhere on wheels, and doing everything from your car. The design had no seating, other than (maybe) an outdoor table or two. But by the 60's they had gone to the tall design, the one in Ken's comment, and they looked like a kid's jack in the box toy. Those still had no real provision for seating, being intended for drive-through operation only.

If you remember back in the day, McDonald's had no drive-through, and no indoor seating. Those stands with the golden arches in their design were for walk-ups only. They may have had a small amount of seating out front and outdoor.

Now both of them and just about all the competitors have dining rooms inside. Rally's is one exception to that, and there's Sonic. And all have drive-through lanes. So, where once they started differently, they have converged to a single basic design. That happens very often in the evolution of retail activity.


dwbat March 20, 2017 @ 5:36 p.m.

Sonic in North Park has inside seating.


AlexClarke March 21, 2017 @ 6:28 a.m.

The new Jack took up valuable parking. If the old Jack is going to be replaced by Starbucks the parking in that shopping center will become a nightmare. At certain times of the day you can't find a parking space at all. The center will be overbuilt relative to the parking.


vm370 April 13, 2017 @ 3:07 p.m.

@AlexClarke Too true. I started by enjoying Book Place's great used book prices, added West Coast BBQ to my trips, and now the Jack takes up too much space. Adding in a Starbucks will just make the lot seem even smaller. I guess we will all start parking in the far corner.


dana987 April 27, 2017 @ 2:38 p.m.

Since we, Book Place, asked the new Jack-In-The-Box to have their employees to park further away, it has opened up some parking spaces. But you're right, really not enough parking.


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