Restaurant Moving Into the Old Mission Bay Visitors’ Center

by on June 21, 2017 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach

Image from website of Playgrounds Concept.

In our continuing irregular series on Mission Bay and its condition and future, the following development of a project heading for the old Visitors Center in East Mission Bay is a must-read, especially for those so-inclined to keep up with this largest of aquatic parks on our doorstep in OB and Point Loma.

What’s being called “a waterfront restaurant/event center” will open in the former tourist info center later this year. A $3 million project headed by a San Diego hospitality company, Playground Concepts, is developing the site as “Shoreline Mission Bay”.

And recently, the San Diego City Council approved a 25-year lease with Playground to move forward on their project. The building is 4,600-square-feet and the entire site is 2.6-acres.

Dave Schwab in the Peninsula Beacon ran an informative piece, in which he described the plans:

Playground intends to convert the 4,600-square-foot building as a casual, counter-service eatery, while adding outdoor seating, a children’s play area, public information services and beach and bike rentals. …

The project, expected to break ground later this year, will feature a counter-service restaurant with local wine and beer on tap and grab-and-go picnic arrangements, as well as a walk-up coffee and juice bar for early morning joggers and cyclists. Also planned is a space for private events and bayfront weddings and beach and bike rentals, as well as a small retail component and children’s play area.

Schwab added:

Built in 1969 by local architect Richard Lareau, the building originally catered to visitors purchasing tickets, picking up maps of area attractions, making hotel reservations or renting bikes. The information center closed in 2010, a victim of visitors going to the Internet instead of brick-and-mortar sites for travel information.

Photo from “The Time Machine” – this is not the type of architecture I’m talking about but maybe it will jog your memory and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

The building, shaped like a seashell, is a unique example of California organic modernism architecture by Lareau. Now retired, Lareau is consulting on the project to ensure renovations conform to his original design and intent for the building.

Personally, I’ve always believed the style of architecture of the former center was heavily influenced by the original movie, “The Time Machine”, where the buildings of the Morlocks resembled the Mission Bay visitors’ center – or vice-versa.

Bradley and Kristine Schnell with Greg Van de Velde

At any rate, Playground Concepts is run by the spousal team of Bradley and Kristine Schnell with Greg Van de Velde.  Van de Velde is the former general manager of Mister A’s, and will run everything at the new upcoming restaurant. The group does have a website but it’s fairly undeveloped.

Did you miss my “Storms Over Mission Bay” or Dave Rice at the SD Reader, “Rose Creek won’t be moved to flush Mission Bay”



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel Smiechowski June 22, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Mr. Frank Gormlie, I am a candidate for City Council from my beloved Mission Bay of 50 years. I watched that “Center” being built. I watched the overpass on Claremont Drive being built. I was one of a handful of original Ironmen on Mission Bay and played golf during the late Sixties at Mission Bay Golf Course. There is not a soul in this City that knows and supports Mission Bay more than Daniel Smiechowski. That is why I support the Bill Walton statue to be moved to this Visitor Information Center. I know Bill and remember him from my days at Claremont High in basketball. It is the right move since Bill is an avid outdoorsman and cyclist. Also, It is my understanding that Decco Bikes will be available adjacent to the proposed restaurant. I say no dice. Let and allow a private bike shop to rent out two wheeled transportation as the revenue will float through our community making us all richer. It’s common sense! God bless all my friends in District 2!! Danny Elect Danny SD Council 858 220 4613 anytime and anyone call me!


Eric June 22, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Deco bikes next to the restaurant, perfect. We used the same type of bike share in DC and Montreal and they were fantastic as a tourist and saw many, many locals on them too. Grab a bike, get to where you want to be, plug the bike into the rack and walk away. No car, no pollution, no hassle. If a private bike shop can make it that convenient more power to them and I would use them. Having to return the bike to the same location, during specified open hours is not convenience.


Daniel Smiechowski June 22, 2017 at 4:07 pm

I disagree as a 50 year resident of Mission Bay and former Ironman/current triathlete. I will tell you why….Decco Bikes is a wonderful addition in many outlying areas without available bike shops/mechanical support such as Shelter Island, Harbor Island and even Downtown to some extent. It is the BROAD picture we need to consider that being what is best for our neighborhood and community. Bicycle revenue is hard to come by these days and bicycle shops are a wonderful addition to our community so we ought to support them within our free market. They are a wholesome business promoting health and social value to our City. Decco Bikes while I agree serves a valuable purpose this purpose is not across the board one size fits all. Business districts in our City are called business districts for an express reason being they promote commerce which in turn promote vibrant communities. Danny 4 Council “Group of 1000 to elect Daniel “Danny” Smiechowski to SD City Council


Eric June 22, 2017 at 4:31 pm

There are people that have to repair and maintain those bikes, shuffle the bikes around, handle book keeping, payroll etc etc so you have jobs being created, in fact I’d say more jobs because more people are getting on bikes. More people are apt to get on a bike if convenient and these bike shares are extremely convenient.. let’s say I want to get from my place in OB to Liberty Station to have a bite and a few barley pops. I pickup a Deco bike a few blocks away, pedal my sweet behind to Liberty Station, maybe get a little heater going. How is a little mom and pop bike shop going to get .08 me home with my bicycle? They’re not. That’s why I rode a Deco to the restaurant and took a Lyft home…convenience and safety. Bicycle shop ownership has declined 42% since 2001 and sad to say it’s not coming back when you have giant bike retailers, online, Amazon and idiots guide to bike repair. Your nostalgia for mom and pop bike shops is nice but a waste of time and disservice to the community as a whole.


Daniel Smiechowski June 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm

I’m sorry we disagree although as I said, I’m not completely in disapproval of Decco just in jurisdictions where compatibility of services, cost and practicality can be found. I do disagree on the viability of bike shops however. Many are doing a brisk business and continue to serve the public therefore I believe these shops merit our support in certain communities over Decco ..God bless, Danny D2 SD Council Triathlon “Go hard or go home.”


partygail June 22, 2017 at 8:02 pm

I have tried the Decco bikes at Mission Beach. So disappointed. The bikes are so corroded that there is no way to adjust the seat height. I rode the bike at an uncomfortable configuration only to discover that the hand brakes were also too corroded to safely operate the bike. i would love to “rent” a bike from a vendor who could adjust my seat height and insure that the brakes worked and would pay a premium for this service.


Daniel Smiechowski June 22, 2017 at 8:33 pm

partygail, I would love to help you as a 40 year triathlete, cyclist and Council candidate!! I take to heart your words of discouragement. I understand! It means much to you to ride a nice bike on the Boardwalk and/or MB and PB. God bless! Danny 4 Council Danny 858 220 4613 I talk to anyone anytime! I’ve never been proud! Danny D2 Council! Making SD great again!!


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