OB Wants to See More ‘Mom and Pop’ and Community-Serving Businesses In Empty Store Fronts

by on August 15, 2009 · 12 comments

in OB Shop Talk

OCEAN BEACH, CA.  According to our most recent poll that was up for an entire week – what do people want to see in OB’s current empty store fronts? – the winning category of respondents want “Mom and pop locally-owned businesses” as “a priority.”  Of 110 respondents, 40 voted for this – 36% of all votes.  The poll ran from August 6th to the 13th.

The second most popular response was “Businesses that serve the neighborhood, not tourists or specialty shoppers (like antique buyers).”  This had 25 votes or 23% of all votes.

17 voted – 15% – for “More reasonably priced or inexpensive restaurants.”  This was a surprise.

15 voters or 14% of all voters checked the response: “The market will determine who moves in, it’s not a decision for the community.”  They apparently don’t think the community should have any say – and they could be historically right.

10 voters – 9% – wanted to express their feelings: “I don’t care how many pot dispensaries there are on Newport.”

1 voter – 1% each voted for “more antique stores and malls”; “More bars”, and “Corporate franchises that offer inexpensive food and drink.”  No one wanted more men or women’s clothing stores. More surf shops or head shops were not a choice, for some reason.

In sum, then 65 voters out of 110 – 59% – want to see more “Mom and Pop”  or neighborhood-serving businesses to take flower in the closed-up storefronts that now dot the community.

A sizable number each wanted more inexpensive restaurants or didn’t think the community had a say in such matters – all for the market to decide.

Nearly 10% sacrificed their vote to express their view that they did not mind more medical marijuana dispensaries on the main business street.  A strong statement, indeed.

Of course, we cannot determine how many of the 110 respondents actually live or own businesses in Ocean Beach.

So – here is some evidence of what OBceans want to take the place of the empty buildings. Some people in the community want to build additional new buildings – there’s a rumor that the owner of the building that Rock Paper Scissors was in want to construct something in the nextdoor parking lot. Plus, World Oil (or whatever they’re called now) wants to build a two-story medical building at the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Voltaire.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry OB August 16, 2009 at 1:56 pm

When I was kid, there was a place called Zeke’s on Bacon and Newport that sold fried chicken and large baskets of french fries…it was also an antique store. So there’s another option that wasn’t in your poll…more antique stores that sell fried chicken.


Frank Gormlie August 17, 2009 at 8:59 am

Larry, sure I remember Zeke’s. They had a side window on Bacon that you could go to and order your food. Chicken wasn’t bad at all. I also remember that they had a couple of full-coated young Klan guys (yup KKK and white sheets) who worked there – once and awhile they would appear in full regalia on OB streets.


Brian August 17, 2009 at 9:42 am

I had trouble picking just one. I went with “Mom & Pop”… but, I really wanted to combine “Mom & Pop”/”The market will decide”/”Cheap restaurants”. I think it’d be sweet to have a locally owned Indian joint in OB. But, ultimately, the best way to express what you do or don’t want in OB is with your wallet. If nobody shopped at Starbucks, they’d close up shop. Heck, I think a bunch of Starbucks franchises closed over the past year… yet, the OB one made the cut. Guess more people want it in OB than don’t.


Gary Gilmore August 17, 2009 at 9:50 am

OB doesn’t have too much to worry about when it comes to big corporate businesses because of its location. OB is in its own little microcosm. Demographically it isn’t worth it for a big business to come into OB because there aren’t enough people living in the area, there isn’t enough parking and there isn’t anywhere that can be expanded to accommodate more parking. OB doesn’t have the necessary traffic to justify a big business locating in the area because OB is a specific destination. You don’t drive through OB to get somewhere else. For example, you drive through PB to get to Bird Rock or La Jolla. You drive along highway 101 to get to Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad etc… OB is perfect for Mom & Pop businesses. What it takes to survive is to be very attentive to the neighborhood, have something that the neighborhood wants and to present it in a way the will be accepted by the locals. The storefronts that are now empty will eventually be filled. If the Mom’s and Pops have pride in their appearance, the courage and ambition to persevere they will survive and they will thrive. I have a real good feeling about this neighborhood and the future is bright.

PS: Yeah, there will be exceptions like Starbucks (Hey! We only have one!!) and Subway but, they are the exception and, if they don’t make enough money they will go away. Vote with your dollars.


jon August 17, 2009 at 10:23 am

mmmm….Indian food. Why won’t an Indian restaurant move to OB? It would do so well! I would open it myself if I knew how to cook Indian food.


Frank Gormlie August 17, 2009 at 10:31 am

First of all, please tell me a place that sells good fried chicken! Can’t find one in San Diego.

Brian, so what you really want is a mom and pop cheap restaurant that is determined by the market. Okay. Yes, an Indian restaurant would be great.

Now on the issue of “the wallet talks” – many OBceans don’t go to the Newport Starbucks – but a lot of Point Lomans and tourists go there. So, WTF?

When OBGO (OB Grassroots Organization) and the Save OB Coalition were fighting Starbucks, we knew then that the national business out of Seattle would run the place in the red for years just to show they could beat us. And when Starbucks recently closed hundreds of storefronts nation-wide, the OB branched stayed open. (Despite an editorial from San Diego City Beat requesting its closure.) Walk by there, and you normally won’t see that many people inside – compared with New Break.

The issue with Starbucks was NOT that they had bad coffee, of course. The issue was that if Starbucks was successful in staying, and paying the landlord good money per square foot, that would greatly encourage other landowners along Newport and other commercial sections of OB to then up their rents – forcing out the very mom and pop stores that most want to see. IF Starbucks was successful, we thought then – 8 years ago – OB would see more corporate franchises that were less about the community than about making more and more profit. There was even a bumper sticker that went “No corporate whores on our shores!” or something like that.

Since then, a few franchises have moved in – despite Gary’s optimism: Wings, Subway, the other sandwich place.

We started a campaign of “Shop Locally” – trying to encourage residents to do their business in the community and not go elsewhere to spend their hard-earned dollars.

But perhaps Gary is right, that OB is a destination (hmm – that plays both ways) so it is too small for the big guys to want to set up shop here.

Yet, as OB receives puff pieces – like it did from the U-T just recently – more and more people will come here – and they’re just as likely to go to a recognizable franchise than a locally-owned business. Except Hodad’s of course.

Part of the point of the article was that while some are planning to construct new commercial buildings, current ones stand vacant.


angel August 17, 2009 at 11:31 pm

anybody remember bufords? little chef?


Brian August 27, 2009 at 11:39 pm

I recently heard a rumor about some business that was going to open soon in the old Boll Weevil location… though, I’ve now forgotten the business. :P Anyone have any inside info and/or rumors on something coming to that spot soon?


bodysurferbob August 28, 2009 at 12:00 am

brian, i heard that a new bar that brews its own beer on site will be opening some time soon there.


Brian August 28, 2009 at 12:01 am

Wait… maybe it was Pizza Port. Yeah, I think that was the rumor I heard. Pizza Port in the old Boll Weevil location. Pass it on. I make no claims as to truthfulness. :)


Lane Tobias August 28, 2009 at 8:47 am

youre right about that, they even did a promotional beer called “Jetty Ale” or something and distributed it to bars in OB to announce their presence…at least thats what folks are saying. So it seems like the Pizza Port thing is a done deal…if anyone can make that location work, its a place that sells beer and food.


jon August 28, 2009 at 9:26 am

Yes, Pizza Port….I am happy to see something go in there, but I’m also rather upset with them for buying the building and letting it get so trashed while they wait for their permits or whatever it is they’re waiting for. The place is tagged all over, and being used as a garbage dump. They really need to get over there and clean it up.

It would also serve them well to add some extra windows. I think one of the reasons businesses constantly fail in that location is because nobody wants to come to the beach to eat at a restaurant that has no windows and little natural light. Boll Weevil was always depressing feeling there, as was the OB Grille. I wish them luck, but I also wish they would be good neighbors and clean up their store front.


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