The Closed Storefronts of Ocean Beach

by on April 24, 2018 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

The former Coffee Bean is still empty. All photos by Frank Gormlie

There’s usually a lot of fanfare whenever a new business or commercial enterprise opens in Ocean Beach, like the new 4-lane bowling alley opening in a local restaurant in northern OB, or when Apple Tree reopened on Newport Avenue.

In all the hubbub, we tend to overlook those businesses or commercial enterprises that have closed, the empty storefronts that hang like dragging anchors on any forward progress and a blight on our collective psyche. Sure, you might say, who’s going to celebrate the closed businesses in our community?

And that’s exactly the point. We don’t celebrate them. And we tend to forget them. Or we ignore them.

But we shouldn’t – and we ought to encourage those budding entrepreneurs, those blooming small capitalists who seemingly emerge out of nowhere to look at what’s available here already. And we should warn them – it’s not easy to stay open on Newport Avenue, for example, the main commercial street in town.

Why, look at Voltaire Street – it’s currently undergoing a type of mini-renaissance – with a couple of noteworthy new restaurants – yet it has the lion’s share of closed storefronts.  OB’s ‘forgotten’ business area, in south OB on Point Loma Avenue, also has a few.

So, here’s a quick photographic tour of the closed storefronts of Ocean Beach – as a check on any unbounded or euphoric enthusiasm for those interested in dabbling in opening a small business – one of the hardest jobs in the world – and as reminder to the rest of us of just where our little world sits.

The former Coffee Bean

What’s to say – it’s still empty (see photo above). One of the apparent largest handicaps to this place is the lack of parking. Totally predictable. And the intersection it sits over has become one of the busiest and most congested intersections in and around OB these days. (The coming Upper Voltaire project will not improve it either.)

Coconut Peet’s Is Open But There Are Plans …

Across Voltaire Street from the Upper Voltaire project, the former Coconut Peet’s stares blankly back at the passerby. It might appear to be closed. The big sign is on the old House of Hui Chinese restaurant building.

We don’t know if Peet’s uses it; the business is in the house on the left in the pictures. The property from the corner the house is on, the House of Hui property, and the large empty on the west side of the old restaurant all were included in the development planned there. They torn down a beautiful old Craftsman on the empty lot years ago as part of the development plan.

Boarded Up Building on Voltaire

The old Subway This building has been boarded up for over a year. Right at the corner of Voltaire and Cable Bacon, behind the coffee cart Tiki Port. What’s going on here? It has parking and a pretty good location, yes?

The Storefront next to ABC Liquor on Voltaire

The space right next to ABC Liquor at Voltaire and Ebers is perhaps the most difficult space to maintain a storefront in all of OB. Nobody ever makes it there; there’s been a shoe repair store there; the guy, of course, the most recent, who made and sold “friendly” leases for dogs; it had a shell and bead shop, I believe. One of the biggest problems is no restroom. Plus it’s very tiny.


4900 Block of Voltaire

The storefront at 4987 Voltaire is still empty.


Subway on Cable Is NOT Closing

Contrary to rumor, the Subway over on Cable Street close to Newport is not closing. The owner assured me he plans to stay open for a long time.

Antique Mall Emptying Out

The mall was emptied out this past weekend, with vendors scrambling to hold last-minute sales and finding new space for their wares.

What’s Happening With the Mural on Back of Antique Mall ?

Very prominently displayed on the rear of the former Antique Mall is one of those long OB murals painted at one of the Street Fairs. What’s happening with it? Where’s it going?


Point Loma Avenue Malaise

The small, Mexican breakfast place, Sunnie’s, is the bright spot on south OB’s own commercial drag, with its reopening. But just steps away are two storefronts that have stood empty literally for years.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page April 24, 2018 at 2:50 pm

About 10 years ago, when the project under construction now was approved, a nearly identical project was approved where Coconut Pete’s and the empty lot next door are. It was only slightly smaller. I checked the approval maps and did not see anything yet but if that one wakes up again, Voltaire will be a mess. Remember, they are already starting on a similar mixed-use project where the Sunshine Liquor used to be.


Val April 24, 2018 at 3:18 pm

“The Former Subway on Voltaire

The old Subway has been boarded up for over a year. Right at the corner of Voltaire and Bacon, behind the coffee cart. ”

That Subway was inside OB Quick Mart. Not sure what building you folks have up above the article, but that ain’t it.


Frank Gormlie April 24, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Okay, correct us. The building in the photo is the building standing at Voltaire and Cable. behind the Tiki Port.


Geez April 25, 2018 at 9:46 am

This was a satellite location of San Diego Bus that was formerly below the Catalina Lounge.


Frank Gormlie April 24, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Trendsetters Salon is alive and well on Newport now.


Jeffeck April 24, 2018 at 3:51 pm

Geoff and Frank,

Look at the bright side, once they have all those housing projects completed, parking will not be an issue. The street will be a parking lot and people will get out and walk to whatever business goes in the Coffee bean place and all the other businesses on upper Voltaire. LOL


Chris April 24, 2018 at 11:08 pm

I guess no one has been to the west side of Santa Cruz in the last 7 or 10 years! So much like OB! Sure all the store fronts are filled with shops and restaurants that an average person can’t afford!! You can still window shop! Nothing grass roots left!! OH make sure if you live more than 5 minutes from Downtown you give your self 30 minutes to park and expect to pay $10. If you have to take an Uber home you WILL come back to a fat over night parking ticket!! So OB you are FUCKED and everyone can see it but… Let’s worry about coffee Bean!! They failed not because of parking!! Come on… The people in OB choose to support locals. U will have to force them out to win this once cool place. Really go FUCK yourselves can we not just have a just a small space!! Signed a conservative!!!


Geoff Page April 25, 2018 at 10:36 am

Putting a Coffee Bean at that location was idiocy. Yes, parking was the problem. Coffee shops depend on a high volume of customers and there was no parking at this location, just a few spaces out front for 20 minute parking I think. And what will happen to that space once the new project being built opens seven more business spaces? And the project at the old Sunshine Liquor store site when it opens a few more of these spaces? If you read about mixed-use these days, you’ll see that it is failing badly and a lot of the business spaces are being converted to residential. This was just a trick to allow residential in commercial areas. But, more living space is probably preferable.


editordude April 25, 2018 at 9:47 am

Please see updates and corrections to this post.


Cory April 25, 2018 at 12:48 pm

4987 Voltaire is part of Therapie Day Spa, its not vacant.


Frank Gormlie April 25, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Even though it has its own address?


Cathy January 1, 2019 at 12:33 am

I was told by other business owners near the coffee Bean & tea leaf that their rent was raised by $2,000 per month and that is why they left. Do you have any information about that?


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