Niagara-Bacon Area Quickly Becoming OB’s New Hot Spot

by on August 22, 2014 · 14 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach

By Matthew Wood

Move over, Newport Avenue. There’s a new hot spot in Ocean Beach.

OK, nothing’s taking over for OB’s main drag in terms of businesses and foot traffic. But if you walk just a block south on Bacon Avenue, you might be surprised at the renaissance of business and shopping.

OB Niagara server 1502

Patrons enjoy the outdoor dining at Bar 1502 on the corner of Niagara and Bacon streets. (All photos by Matthew Wood)

The long-perceived notion that the only businesses that can survive have to be on Newport is quickly diminishing. That’s evident with the addition of Bar 1502 – the new incarnate of the immensely popular OB Noodle House just eight or so blocks down – at the southeast corner of Bacon and Niagara. It now gives a solid restaurant option at each corner of that intersection, providing ample opportunities for businesses on the block to attract traffic.

“It’s awesome to see,” said Bar 1502 owner Steven Yeng, who passed up offers to open up shop on Newport. For him, the location is a personal dream come true, as it is just steps from his boyhood house.

“Niagara is my street. It’s my home,” he said. “If this property was on Newport, we wouldn’t be able to do this. There’s no drama here. I really like that.”

OB niagara bacon ladies

Jennifer Doyle and Sarah Larson of Often Wander at Noon.

Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association director Denny Knox has seen first-hand a shift in shopping traffic. The OBMA office sits on Bacons between Newport and Niagara.

“That would be your first choice to be right on Newport, but I think certain types of business do great on side streets,” she said. “They certainly seem busy from what I see. And everybody seems to be having a good time. All those places do well.”

Sarah Larson is a co-owner of Often Wander at Noon, a boutique jewelry and furniture store just south of Bar 1502. She said she loves the insider vibe she gets from the customers at her shop.

“Newport is more touristy,” she said. “The people who walk in here are locals. It feels like the people who come into our place are in the know. They come to this spot because they know this spot.”

Jennifer Doyle, a manager in the store, like the fact that they’re off the beaten path.

“I think we’re in the perfect spot for our customers,” she said.

The draw of cheaper property/rent costs and lesser riff-raff than what you find on the Newport is luring more businesses off the main strip.

“When I was looking for a location, a lot of people were saying that you have to be on Newport,” said Robert Stewart, owner of The Coffee Method.

“There’s more here than just Newport.”

Stewart opened up in a space shared by a flower shop just south of Niagara a little over a year ago and said he couldn’t be happier with the location.

OB Niagara shop inside

Keely Belding opened up Teeter earlier this summer on Niagara Street just off the pier.

Another newbie to the area moved in just down the block when Keely Belding opened up Teeter, a paper goods, organic and modern design store just west of Nati’s on Niagara. She has quickly built a network of local artists to showcase their wares while starting up arts and crafts classes for neighbors.

“I love Newport, but there’s a lot of cool stuff happening around here,” Belding said. “We want to be a part of the community.”

She says she’s perplexed why her location – which most recently housed an outpost of Robb Fitness Club – hasn’t had more stable clientele.

“I always loved this building, but there was never really anything to draw people here. It’s not very welcoming. We have the greatest pier on the coast, so you would think we could do more.”

OB niagara bacon Raglan

Amber Vavro and Randi Jean of Raglan Public House stand outside the bar/restaurant that many consider the start of the movement south for OB patrons.

Belding credits the addition of Raglan Public House a few years ago as the catalyst for the shifting trend.

“Raglan really brought in a younger crowd around here,” she noted.

Raglan owner Mike Zouroudis sees the shift and hopes it continues.

“Sometimes I take a look around on a Tuesday night and nothing’s really going on, except on this corner,” he said. “I hope that these new places drive the engine of traffic to this part of town instead of Newport.”

The elder statesman on the block – if you will – is Nati’s Mexican Restaurant, which will celebrate its 55th anniversary in OB next year.

Nati’s owner Marilyn Thomas said the big question is whether the new places can sustain the rigors of the non-tourist season.

“More businesses bring more people, which opens up this area,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how it goes after Labor Day.”

Zouroudis is also concerned about how to sustain the uptick in traffic the block has seen.

“The question for me is, is this just shifting demographics or are people coming from outside (OB)?” he said. “In the grand scheme of things, the goal is to get people from North Park, South Park, Kensington to come to OB. Time will tell. Who knows? It’s too early to tell.”

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Gretchen Newsom August 22, 2014 at 11:23 am

I propose we call this district ‘Baja Bacon’. Thoughts?

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avatar Tyler August 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

Second’d

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avatar Jon August 22, 2014 at 11:58 am

Haha… Gretchen! Love it.

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avatar Goatskull August 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

Good to see this area thriving, but both the Tilted Stick and Lucy’s have always done well despite not being on Newport. If fact they are still my two favorite bars just to get away from the crowds.

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avatar OB Mercy August 22, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Lovin’ that Gretchen!

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avatar Wireless Mike August 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Nati’s and Poma’s have been two of my favorite restaurants for many years, like reliable old friends where others come and go. They seem to draw more loyal locals than tourists. I hope some of the newer businesses can enjoy the same kind of longevity and local following.

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avatar Frank Gormlie August 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

One of the reasons I go to Nati’s is their parking; I’m always assured of a space. Why doesn’t Nati’s work out something with some of the other restaurants to allow their patrons access to the often-half-empty lot?

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avatar phillip gordon August 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Teeters was originally built out to be vault combat academy but lost lease. had the clientele… Just a thief of a landlord. Great location and they will do great.

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avatar obnoxious August 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm

I Had a roast beef sub (my favorite) @ Poma’s yesterday…
It was not very good, they have always been good in the past, but
everything was not to fresh. The roast beast was tough and chewy.
Something has changed at Poma’s…

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avatar Rick D. August 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

How ’bout Bacon/Pier Group??
Good luck finding parkiing nearby during Touron season. . .

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avatar OB Mercy August 25, 2014 at 10:14 am

I love Pomas too, but feel the same way about their roast beef the couple of times I’ve had it. I usually get their meatball sub, really good. Btw, best Philly steak sandwich I’ve found so far in SD is right on Midway in a little strip mall called, Jin’s Grill. Also voted best by food critic in the Reader.

Frank, I TOTALLY agree about Nati’s parking lot! I NEVER see it full. Such a waste of space. I’ve never eaten there…I’ve heard it’s SO far from being authentic, I’ve never tried it!

I do love Raglan’s food and am willing to pay a bit more to not have weird chemicals in my meat.

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avatar Steve August 31, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Been to Bar 1502 a couple times lately. They got a bad fly problem with the open windows. I felt like the Karate Kid trying to catch flies with my chopsticks. Otherwise, food and drinks we’re good and affordable, as expected.

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avatar OB Mercy August 31, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Totally unfair Steve. Flys are bad EVERYWHERE in OB in the summer. I’ve experienced it every place I’ve been here. Was bad last summer too.

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avatar Steve September 1, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I guess I just haven’t been to the other spots with the flies inside. I’ve been on a lot of the outside patios and yes there are flies everywhere. Guess that’s what sucks about how they have the windows set up.

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