Nati’s Has Closed for Good – But What Will Happen to the Historic Buildings?

by on June 8, 2018 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Pop Pie Shop Probably Coming – But What About Proposed Demolition?

Nati’s Mexican Restaurant closed its doors for good on Thursday, June 7. It’s been there for nearly 6 decades. And it will probably be replaced with a Pop Pie Shop, that originated in University Heights. We announced all this back in mid-January. News 8 reported in their piece from yesterday that:

The owner of the popular Pop Pie Shop in University Heights told News 8 they are interested in leasing and potentially opening up another restaurant. … Nati’s property which includes the neighboring business and parking lots is one of the largest private pieces of land in Ocean Beach. It was sold for $5.7 million.

Michael Donovan

The new owner of the property, developer Michael Donovan, will have fun playing with it. The OB Rag reported:”… the [Nati’s] structure is being taken over by controversial developer Michael Donovan of SDPB Holdings, LLC. . Donovan is controversial because of his conflicts with the city as well as with neighbors a year ago next to a Mission Hills project he was building, as well as conflicts with neighbors against a Golden Hill / South Park development of his a few years back.”

Josias Joesler

And according to local writer Julie Stalmer, Nati’s new owner has proposed to demolish the shopping center – yet some consider it historical.

Save Our Heritage Organization told Stalmer that Nati’s mid-century modern style shopping center design is historically significant, as it was designed by architect (and original owner) Josias Joesler, a nationally-known architect with a number of properties on the historic National Register.

Here’s some of our reposting of Stalmer’s great history of the original owners:

Josias Joesler moved with his wife Nati and daughter Margret to Ocean Beach in 1944. In 1955, he designed the shopping center on Bacon where Nati opened Nati’s Import Shop showcasing Mexican folk art and crafts. Joesler died the next year in Tuscon of a heart-attack, making Nati’s one of his last executed designs. …

Originally born in Zurich, Joesler, moved with his wife Nati and daughter Margret to Ocean Beach in 1944, where he built a house in Sunset Cliffs. Nati created ceramics at home while organizing art therapy classes for disabled veterans. Joesler commuted back and forth to Tuscon for his architectural practice.

In 1955, Joesler designed the shopping center on Bacon where Nati opened Nati’s Import Shop showcasing Mexican folk art and crafts. Joesler died the next year in Tuscon of a heart attack, making Nati’s one of his last executed designs. Nati returned to her homeland of Spain circa 1960 where she died in 1963. Nati’s Mexican restaurant opened in 1960.

National Register documentation for Joesler in Tucson mentions Nati’s. “Reaching out to others that document his work, they understand this is the only remaining Joesler building in San Diego,” said Hayes.

On the surface, Nati’s expansion in 1961 and the added-on dining room in 1966 seem not to favor historic designation. Save Our Heritage Organisation argues that the expansions do not hurt Nati’s chances because they were anticipated in the original plans designed by Joesler.

SOHO believes Joesler was considered by many to be an “An Architectural Eclectic,”; they say “eclecticism is a nineteenth and twentieth century style of architecture where a design incorporates a mix of elements from previous historical styles to create something original.”


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael June 8, 2018 at 12:35 pm

The affinity for this place confounds me. Calling that building historically significant is a stretch. Just because something is old doesn’t make it significant.


marc johnson June 8, 2018 at 8:23 pm

Let’s get real for 5.7 million most likely going to be luxury condos.


Gail Powell June 9, 2018 at 7:23 am

I was fortunate to sit next to a lady on Thursday who came to eat lunch at Nati’s every day last week before they closed. She told me several things I will detail in a rant later, if the OB Rag is interested. Suffice to say that the long time help, who have worked tirelessly and graciously at the eatery for years, were only offered $2,000 in severance pay, if they worked to the end. While the 2 owners walk away with millions! And BTW, if you came last Thursday, a take-out order was called in for 100 Chili Rellenos at 11:00 a.m., and by 1:30 p.m., Nati’s was officially sold out of all Chili Rellenos. More sad faces!


Frank Gormlie June 18, 2018 at 10:04 pm

According to my sources, there is no public deed showing ownership by Donovan.


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