News From the Storefronts of Ocean Beach

by on April 2, 2013 · 13 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

OB Around town 3-29-13 TeManaCafe 01

Marguerite, Jason and Venezia Cruz in front of TeMana Cafe on Voltaire Street. (All photos by Frank Gormlie)

Every now and then, I take pen and pad and camera in hand and travel the business streets of OB, looking for news and changes, openings and closings of new commercial offerings to the village.  Last Friday, the 29th of March was one of those times, so follow me along as I traipse across the community.

Voltaire Street

Let’s begin with what’s new on Voltaire Street – the lesser known of our two main business avenues. (For larger images, click on the photos.)

OB Around town 3-29-13 VTC 03The Voltaire Trading Company

What better place to get to know what’s new on Voltaire is to venture into the Voltaire Trading Company at 4852 Voltaire. Owned and run by Lola Lint and her man, Matt, the collectibles and nostalgic thrift store is having a Grand Opening. They first opened their place up Voltaire next to ABC Liquor in early May 2011.  Lola and Matt then moved into their present location in August of 2012.

Lola told me why they moved from the original site:

OB Around town 3-29-13 VTC 01

Matt and Lola inside their Voltaire Trading Company.

Business was good.  We rocked.  But Matt, who does furniture and surfboards, needed a bigger space. That other place didn’t have a bathroom, and was only 350 square feet.  But when this place became available – we took it.  We ran both businesses for 3 months.”

Matt – who rebuilds furniture that Lola then sells in the store – told me their “mission statement” is “Reduce, Re-use and Renew”.  I got a quick tour of the place, while their 9 year old son, Micah, played outside in the front.  Store hours are 11 to 7 Wednesdays through Saturday, and Sundays 12 to 5, and closed on Mondays.

TeMana Cafe

OB Around town 3-29-13 Lemanacafe 03

The counter. Lots of bagels.

Almost exactly a block away and closer to the beach on Voltaire is a brand new coffeehouse and cafe: TeMana Cafe, at 4956 Voltaire.  Owned by Marguerite and Jason Cruz, they just opened in mid-February and have their whole family working there.  Daughter Venezia was working the cash register when I walked in. I noticed the place was fairly busy, plus was very dog-friendly, with water bowls and leash hooks.

They serve all kinds of bagels, acai bowls, pulled pork sandwiches, hummus – Jason told me they’re still developing the menu and plan to have more kinds of sandwiches and plates.  They will be hiring more people and are planning a grand opening before the end of this month, April.

OB Around town 3-29-13 LeManacafe 02

Venezia showing off the parlor at TeMana Cafe, complete with a real gas-fireplace.

Jason is an OB local, having graduated from Point Loma High in 1985, and his dad still lives on Narragansett.  Jason still holds down his other job, a part-time one with Costco.

Marguerite is from PB, and she has worked in the hospitality industry, and ran the cafeteria at the Veterans’ Hospital.  She told me the name of the cafe derives from the Polynesian concept of “the driving force of your soul”.

The amazing thing is that the family lived in this place, this great house for 4 to 5 years, before they totally refurbished it into the cafe it is today, with new landscaping, new interior and tables outside. The house itself is an historical one, built in 1924.  Jason pointed out that they kept the pine tree in the side yard when they redid the place.

They’re open Monday through Thursdays 7 to 3, and Friday, Sat, and Sundays 7am to 6pm.

OB Around town 3-29-13 Hunlou 02Hungry Lu’s – Italian Deli

We’re still on Voltaire and see next to the famous restaurant O’Bistro’s,  a somewhat newish Italian deli, Hungry Lu’s.  The deli which also has many desserts is at 4920 Voltaire.

I met Charlie, who is the manager, years ago as he is the younger brother of a set of sisters who run and own “Grab and Go”s all over town.  When I worked downtown, I went into the next door Grab and Go probably three times a day for coffee and sandwiches.

OB Around town 3-29-13 HunLou 01

Maria staffing the counter at Hungry Lu’s.

Hungry Lu’s first opened on Voltaire a few years ago as a Grab and Go; they have a large kitchen where they make the rolls for all the delis the family runs. It closed as a deli for awhile but has reopened with new products, new name, and some noticeably great desserts.

Charlies wasn’t there when I dropped by but Maria was and she told me that they’re open 11 to 9pm on Mondays thru Saturdays, and on Sundays 11 to 6.

OB Around town 3-29-13 cellCell Phone Store

Way up Voltaire and right next to People’s was an empty storefront (the old home of the smoke shop called 420). But driving by I noticed it had been taken over by a cell phone company.

 Newport Avenue

Once over on OB’s main business street, Newport Avenue, I immediately noticed some changes, and set out to investigate.  There seemed to be a bunch of news worthy items on that “first” block – the first commercial block of Newport.  I checked on some reliable sources, including the woman with a ‘fishing’ cup looking for coins.

OB Around town 3-29-13 OB BrewSports Bar and Hooka Lounge

There’s brown paper in the windows of the old OB Hardware store.  I was told by more than one source that it is to be a sports bar and hooka lounge.  Somebody else said it was to be another craft beer establishment.  I asked the friendly folks at the current OB Hardware and they were fairly certain it was to be a sports bar with hooka.

OB Around town 3-29-13 checkCheck Cashing Store Closed

Also noticeable was the closed former check cashing store at 4884 Newport.  “For Lease” signs were still in the window, so we can speculate that no new business is about to move in.

Cohn Family Restaurant Group and Portugalia

What I didn’t see were any changes to the front or rear of the old Portugalia restaurant.  No new signs or paint, or anything to indicate something was going on inside the two-story building. I did ask around – including at the small restaurant, the vintage antique store, and even the bank next door, but no one knew anything. There had been more than rumors that the Cohn Family Group had acquired it and were planning a new restaurant upstairs.  Rumors had it being a beer and burger joint but also a high-end food place.

OB Around town 3-29-13 PortG 02

No changes to front of former Portuagalia restaurant.

Not much activity can be seen from the alley either, even though I tried to get a closer look. (That one photo is shot through the hole in the curtain covering the chain-link fence in the back.)

Finally I called the Cohn group PR person, Kelly Brown, who stated that there wasn’t much to report on the new place.  She did confirm that they had “acquired” the building – but didn’t know whether they had leased or bought it -. She couldn’t tell me whether the acquisition also included the down stairs and that small space on the ground floor.

OB Around town 3-29-13 PortG 01Kelly was very emphatic in saying that there was no concept developed yet.  “We don’t know the name or type of food it will have,” she said. She did say that they plan to open something by the end of the year.

Finally, Kelly managed to tell me that “there’s 4 other concepts in Southern California” taking priority.

OB Dollar Store

OB Around town 3-29-13 Dollar 01

Zach Meyer in front of his new store front, the OB Dollar Store.

Down the block and around on Cable, I found a relatively new storefront – the OB Dollar Store at 1919 Cable Street.  The long, thin store holds a variety of beach items, house cleaning stuff, drinks and snacks. Everything is one buck or less, I was assured by the owner Zach Meyer – whom I met; his fiancee Stephanie also is an owner. They plan to be married in July.

OB Around town 3-29-13 dollar 02Zach and Stephanie opened the Dollar Store in early February. He’s a local, having lived here several years.  Check them out at

Ocean Beach Brewery or Whatever

Noticing that way down Newport Avenue closer to the beach, the two-story ugly pink building had its front covered, I knew something was up. I also knew that the building was owned by the owner of Newport Pizza (whose name I cannot recall) and he had been planning on developing a new Italian restaurant there for awhile now.

OB Around town 3-29-13 OldInbetween 01

3 levels coming to Newport Ave, including roof-top dining at the future Ocean Beach Brewery … or whatever the name is.

So I crossed the street and went into Newport Pizza and found Megan, who was shoveling pizzas in and out of the huge ovens inside. I knew her as a reliable source and peppered her with questions.

Megan told me that they do plan to open in July, but still were deciding on the exact name and food for the new restaurant.  There will be three levels, she told me, on the down stairs floor will be a beer tasting room; the next two floors will be levels for dining – including a roof-top site where patrons can watch sunsets. The prices, she said, will be between $10 and $15, “not too high-end” she added.

OB Around town 3-29-13 EmptySanta Monica Empty

A couple blocks away and over on Santa Monica Avenue, I found that the small, short-lived children’s and baby-clothes place has apparently closed in that two-story building on the 4800 block of Santa Monica Ave, across from the library.  There’s been a number of businesses that have come and gone in that place over not too long of a period of time.  So, new businesses have opened around the village, and some have closed. This was one.

Local Development Progress

OB Around town 3-29-13 SantaMonica devWe round out this column in news with simply some photos of new development that we’ve reported on before.

At the corner of Ebers and Santa Monica, 4 single-family homes and garages are going in, and it appears that walls have been built between the lots.

OB Around town 3-29-13 WPtLoma deveHere’s what the new building on West Point Loma Boulevard looks like now (3/29/13).

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Lester Burnham April 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I’ve never seen a check cashing place go out of business. Not sure if that’s a good or bad sign. Any word on when those old apartments on abbott and saratoga are gonna get bulldozed? Taggers have been having a field day with the fence.


Frank Gormlie April 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm

The tenant residents had to be out by Jan 1, this year I believe. After they all left and until the fence went up, the doors were left open for days to anyone wandering through.


Jon April 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Those check cashing stores can provide a service to the under banked, or non bankable population, but they’re usually predatory. Charging outrageous interest rates for short-term loans that get the financially uneducated caught in a spiral of never ending debt. They’re also havens for money launderers. They may have been forced to close if it was discovered they were up to no good. Our community would be better off with a credit union than one of these places.

I’m really excited to try out tremana! The wife & I walked by before they were open and it looked nice! Very island feel to it. Maybe I’ll stop in for coffee this weekend.

Thanks for keeping us all updated frank!

FYI though…I think the picture you said is of the rear side of portugalia is actually the rear side of the new brewery owned by Newport pizza.


Frank Gormlie April 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Jon, let me check … and even I have to say that when dealing with the small images, the 2 sites could very well look similar, but it is the Portugalia as I took 2 pics in the alley, one thru the fence and tarp (the one posted) and a second outside the fence and tarp – which have ugly graffiti and I didn’t want to use, plus I didn’t take any from the alley of the OB Brewery, the former social services place, and former Inbetween – the youth drop-in center where I worked for a year back in the mid-1970’s, doing everything from sweeping floors to counseling. Lots of stories from that place. I believe my name is still in concrete at the rear of the building on a patio we built in ’74.


Seth April 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

On Ebers and Santa Monica:

I don’t remember every detail of this one, but I know that many people were interested in this one. I did vote to recommend it while on the OBPB, and speaking only for myself, it is what it is. Hated to see the older blue buildings go, but not sure what was supposed to happen with them. Can’t mandate that a property owner run a children’s center or whatever. The buildings were not original to that site, and did not conform to the underlying lot lines.

In a nutshell, the owner/developer wanted to build one unit on each of the 4 narrow lots that run north-south. They are two story units and if I were King of OB, I would have preferred to see them remain at cottage scale. They also wanted some small variances relative to setbacks, the most important of which allowed them to build closer to Ebers Street in the side yard with the western-most unit. That one was definitely debatable, but denying that simply would have forced them to squish the 4 units closer together, which would have been perfectly legal according to Code, but not really desirable in final product. They were also pretty flexible in terms of making design adjustments per our request, such as moving the units further back from the street on the Santa Monica side, and moving a proposed garage off of the neighbor’s property line on the eastern side.

In sum, not an ideal result, but one where their property rights were respected, as were those of their neighbors. In lieu of being able to force everyone to build Craftsman cottages, I think the community planning process succeeds when parties are willing to work together as happened on this project.


Frank Gormlie April 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Be careful of the hours for the wonderful new coffeehouse, TeMana Cafe. I reported here that on Wed – Sat, the hours are 11 to 7pm, but I went by yesterday, a Wed, and was told they close at 3pm.


Kenloc April 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Great article on the goings on of OB. I’d like to add that Nick’s at the Pier has closed its doors as well. The signs in the windows( they were installing new windows today) say “Coming soon, Dreamland Ocean Pub” stay tuned…….


Frank Gormlie April 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Kenloc, yes, thanks, forgot to cover that. I didn’t think the new owners – one whom I hear lives in Pt Loma – had decided on the exact name, but it looks like they have.


OB Jamie April 4, 2013 at 11:55 pm

I’m surprised you omitted the demise of El Rodeo and the non-fulfillment of what were told was going to be a branch of Oscar’s in PB but is apparently now calling itself the Admiral Yacht Club or something beneath Ace tat.


Jon April 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

The rag’s Judi curry just did a whole review on the place. Here:

Personally I wil not miss el regretO. And I hear the Newport yacht club is pretty great. They definitely spruced it up. I also heard a rumor the owner is the son of Harry of Harry’s coffee house restaurant in la jolla. That’s cool because Harry was always a neat guy and very kind to me when my dad used to take me in there as a kid.

Another rumor is that the old nicks will be the wonderland bar & grill, and will be run by the guys who own “the local” downtown. That would be really cool. The local is a cool downtown bar, and always felt like it belonged at the beach, not downtown. They’ve had great craft beer selections for years, and a cool beach themed decor. Exciting stuff!


Frank Gormlie April 5, 2013 at 9:09 am

Here is what Judi wrote in her review of the “Yacht Club”:

He [the owner] is one of 9 children and, in fact, his mother and father opened “Harry’s Coffee Shop” in La Jolla in 1960. He is also a part-owner of Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach.


Frank Gormlie April 5, 2013 at 9:06 am

OB Jamie – we did cover it a while ago. The new place has been reviewed by the Widder Curry.


dave rice April 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

As long as L Rodeo (no e) is gone, who cares? I want to try the seafood place out soon, but at least the worst of a pretty bad selection of taco shops has bit the dust…

If the Local or something similar moves into Nick’s old digs, that would be awesome – good food, fair prices at their spot downtown – my go-to for pre-gaming House of Blues shows.


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