HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Great news re: old Police station


I've often wondered just how we, as a community, would mitigate those awful lines at Fashion Valley.

FINALLY someplace to send the overflow.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. hahah I figured the Fashion Valley lines were the overflow from the Gaslamp!

    1. Oh **** me.

      Why couldn't it be a Yakyudori offspring moving into a place that held more than 16 customers at a time?

      1. You got me. I quickly opened the thread hoping to at least see something about Pizza Mozza or similar. Given the location near two huge hotels, the lines will be out the door. So sad.

        1. Just a two trolley trip to get from one to the other - cool beans.

          Old Spaghetti Factory might be in trouble again.

          1. I wonder if the CF wil kill off some of those c***tastic places already in seaport village. On the bright side, I might now be able to get into the oyster bar at the fish market in the summertime

            1 Reply
            1. re: littlestevie

              I had the same thought, littlestevie. CF might be a useful magnet to slightly ease up the crowds at some of the decent, err...., acceptable places in the area, and at the same time put some of the less than average places out of their misery. Perhaps, just perhaps, this might encourage newer places to compete on the interesting front rather than the "please the masses" front.

              Or not.

            2. Due to the rules here at CH, I'm very limited in the content of my commentary about this subject.

              But suffice to say that the Port wants a LOT of revenue for the space which forces choices like CF, and there are spaces for four different restaurants there.

              35 Replies
              1. re: Fake Name

                Yes, Cheesecake Factory is to fine dining as The Kiss statue is to fine art. All about the $$$ of course.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  Once again I'm depressed. If this is true it will be yet another example of San Diego's historical preference for mass market mediocrity and short term thinking over quality and image building.

                  1. re: nileg

                    Oh, my.

                    I am gratified to see the port performing it's fiduciary responsibility in maximizing revenue for a taxpayer owned asset. I don't believe it's the role of taxpayers to be subsidizing culinarily superior restaurants over lower risk, higher yield lease relationships.

                    Don't take it personally.

                    1. re: Fake Name

                      You said spaces for four different restaurants, right? Three more left. Any guesses?

                      PF Chang's: almost certain

                      Phil's: San Diego's best BBQ!!!

                      Maybe somebody could get the El Indio gang interested in expansion.

                        1. re: RB Hound

                          Olive Garden > Phil's. As it is a port, methinks Olive Garden + PF Chang's would create a more multi-cultural vibe. A Chipotle in the fourth spot would enhance the melting pot feel and offer tourists a little taste of TJ without really having to brave the border crossing.

                          1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                            What's sad is there are many people who would see nothing wrong with what you just wrote.

                            Chipotle's a bit exotic, though. El Torito's always a crowd-pleaser.

                            1. re: Josh

                              "Chipotle's a bit exotic, though" - It's so sad that this is actually true for most people.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Are you certain about El Torito, Josh? The sitdown Mexican chains have not fared very well as of late - Acapulco and El Torito have closed quite a few restaurants in the San Diego area.

                                I think you nailed it with the Cohn's Group, though. They are the obvious "unique" choice, so that the powers that be can say "see - we chose something unique!"

                            2. re: Fake Name

                              Funny, I'm the taxpayer but nobody asked ME what to do with my shared asset. Only appointed people I didn't elect get the right to choose restaurants Chowhounders universally ridicule. As a taxpayer and third generation San Diegan I don't have a say.

                              Enjoy the cheesecake...I'll recommend visiting CH'ers steer clear.

                              1. re: nileg

                                Suppose you could write a letter so they'd know how you feel. I'm confident the port will slap their foreheads on realizing they overlooked Chowhound, that barometer of culinary taste and culture.

                                On their knees they will come, begging and pleading (in an annoying manner) for a second chance to use the Collective Chowhound Gieger Counter of Worthy Restaurants for their future doubtlessly more sensible transactions.

                                But until then, they'll have a tenant giving them plenty of cash regularly and reliably. Maybe that will salve the wound they self-inflicted by keeping us outside the decision chain.

                                1. re: Fake Name

                                  Look, from a business / public trust standpoint, I think we all realize the Port has to go with the best financial deal. That doesn't mean we have to like it as CHers. So Jeez, lighten up FN; work in a little decaf. And it's "geiger" counter, not Gieger.

                                  1. re: mcgrath

                                    "And it's "geiger" counter, not Gieger."

                                    Oh, thank you. Tapping on the phone to make a post- hope you'll forgive.

                                    Oh- wait. It is Geiger counter- proper name. Granted, I transposed, but at least I got the capilization correct ; )

                                    Folks- really. Don't take me as seriously as I sound, ok? It's a good policy to add "hahaha" to whatever I post.

                                    1. re: mcgrath

                                      @mcgrath & @Fake Name -- Respectfully, I couldn't disagree more with your fundamental "given" that the Port is charged to ensure a strong financial return on the property. The Port and the municipal government should be focused on improving the quality of life of the region, not on maximizing fiscal returns for taxpayer assets. (Maximizing fiscal ROI is the job of publicly-held companies, not civic entity who collect taxes/fees). Up until the last 30 years or so, and in most other countries, this obligation of the Port to steward the community and not focus on profit would be so obvious it wouldn't merit discussion.

                                      Until we start holding the Port and civic government accountable as the maintainers of unique franchises (such as what goes into our historic buildings), San Diego is going to continue to mire in mediocrity in every aspect of our culture -- food, architecture, public art, transportation -- and quality of life in general.

                                      Why *don't* we demand that the Port make their decision based on what's best for the future of the region, not on what maximizes their financial return? It's because we don't that we get Cheesecake Factory. This is the process in which cities, for the most part, get the restuarants they deserve.

                                      1. re: jayporter

                                        I'll answer that- because money is easily and universally valued, nice, quaint, cool, interesting, edgy, innovative, are not so much.

                                        Hey, personally, I'm with you, and I find the argument that the Port COULD support and encourage values other than money completely valid. But it has not worked that way.

                                        Honkman, I'm completely confused about your premise, and maybe I misunderstand. I appreciate your point of view, so let me offer another:

                                        It's a much better long-term game to lease 50,000 (whatever) square feet to someplace like CF who'll build it out they what they want, they'll operate for the duration of their long-term lease, and are backed with HUGE investment capital and offer the stability of a chain of very successful establishments, however boring.

                                        A short-term plan is to lease 50 1000 sq ft spaces to business like "Jack and Janes Artesianal Manzinita Toothpicks" or "Robin's Unicorn Milk Cheeses"- undercapitalized and riskier businesses with very small chances of survival past the six months of capital they can squeeze out of their third mortgage and retirement funds.

                                        THAT'S Short-term business.

                                        Yes, the Ferry Building- does anyone know if it's actually making money for the port? (Again- if you want to argue that the port should subsidize business, I'll recognize that as valid)

                                        Hey, I know! Lets create a museum of cuisine! We'll build a cool building and create a Mecca of culinary interest that will spread throughout the region. We can demonstrate food culture- wine, olive oil, and agriculture, and have a large gift shop full of books, video and tools of the Art of Food. Clothing, too!

                                        And we'll call it Copia.

                                        Oh. Already done. Chapter 11.

                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                          Most of the Ferry Building (the upper floors) is office space for high value tenants. It makes the SF Port a substantial income. The retail businesses in the Ferry Building get great foot traffic, sell quality products and make good profits. The Port made money for their leases throughout the recession. None of the businesses in the Ferry Building are marginal, many sell world-class products from renowned businesses. This is all well documented and easily accessible information available via a Google search.

                                          As for Copia...it had NOTHING in common with either the Ferry Building or the Old Police Station/Seaport Village sites. COPIA: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts was a cultural museum and education center. It wasn't a retail venue like the street level Ferry Building and was in the middle of a rather boring part of the city of Napa. Bringing up Copia is a stretch, fakey. Your cynicism may be getting the better of your usually impeccable reasoning.

                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                            The problem with such a discussion is always that nobody has numbers to support any proposals and so such discussions will never have a definite answer. You believe that having such large chains will bring in more revenues than many small shops, I believe that it is the opposite - we both won't have any numbers to back it up. I also think you shouldn't just look at the revenues of the building but of the whole city - I am not sure how much money the Ferry Building is making for the port but I have no doubt that especially with the large madia coverage of the building over the last 5-10 years many tourists were attracted to SF which normally wouldn't go (I have even in my company several people who read about it (which are not particular interested in food) and decided to do a vacation in SF based on it and even went back repeated times). You won't attract a single additional tourist to SD with chains like CF, McD in that buidling and those tourists would bring in revenues for SD which are much higher than anything those chains will generate in the building.
                                            And also why not try to invest (public or private) money to attract local well-known vendors/restaurants to this building - Having an Eclipse chocolate chop, a Suzie farms place and an Urban Solace restaurant in there would have relative little risk of failure but would generate no less revenue with just the building and would have a much bigger impact on revenues for the city through more tourists.

                                            1. re: honkman

                                              I'd suspect it's been tried- specifically those.

                                              But you're right- up to a point we're both making guesses and assumptions for which I (or sounds like you) don't have the data to confirm/deny.

                                              And again- I completely understand and find your point of view reasonable.

                                              1. re: honkman

                                                Hmmm...CAKE 10-k says the company averages (historically) somewhere between $800-1000 of revenue per productive square foot of space in a restaurant annually. If they build out a 10,000 square foot restaurant, i think you are looking at somewhere between $8-10 million a year for that spot.

                                              2. re: Fake Name

                                                Yes, I think it's clear the port and similar entities should subsidize businesses that contribute quality to the city. As it is, they do many things to subsidize certain businesses (like developers) already, this would simply be a change to subsidies that improved the city and returned long term multiples due to the increased quality of life (cf. the financial performance during the recession of cities with more "creatives").

                                                The last thing we need is for civic entities like the port to act like private developers. The large private developers have for the most part been the problem in developing San Diego as a good city. The City and Port taking them as role models will just ensure decades to come of San Diego as a mall-in-city's-clothing, with the restaurants you'd expect in a mall, at the same quality.

                                                In short: Entities with the goal of maximizing profit do nothing for the citizenry. So why are civic organizations, whose job it is to manifest the potential for the polis, adopting the same credo? They should be counterbalancing that and working in opposition to profit motive, for maximizing the public good. The "public good" includes, without question, restaurants, stores and markets that serve/sell high quality, local, well-cultivated food, not the semi-edible commodities that are plumbed through such corporate entities as Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, etc.

                                                1. re: jayporter

                                                  "So why are civic organizations, whose job it is to manifest the potential for the polis, adopting the same credo?"

                                                  Probably because most of our city's denizens wouldn't be able to comprehend this sentence without a dictionary at hand.

                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                    In all fairness, it should be "potential *of* the polis", I typed it too quick.

                                                    1. re: jayporter

                                                      It's hard to maintain utopian idealism in the face of Yelp.

                                                1. re: nileg

                                                  and I don't disagree with him. But the truth is San Diego demands "The Kiss" and will continue to do so. T-t-t-that's reality, folks.

                                                  Those of us unwilling to settle for that level of aesthetic may need to travel or relocate.

                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    That hurts, because I recognize the truth in it. I just hope it's not the whole truth.

                                          2. re: Fake Name

                                            Over the last few years everything food related has become of major interest for all kinds of mainstream media and so the general public has gotten a higher interest in this topic. A number of cities, with the most prominent example of San Francisco and the Ferry Building, have generated over the last few decades centers of culinary attraction which have a very positive effect on the number of tourists attracted to the city. Having CF as a first restaurant in the Old Police Building is going the opposite way – it might generate more revenue in the next 1-2 years (but it won’t attract any additional tourists to SD) but if they would have tried to go a similar route as with the Ferry Building it would have generated a significant larger revenue in a few years than with their current approach – for me it’s the difference between being a paper-shuffler/bureaucrat and just looking at the very short term numbers and being visionary but at the same time fisical responsible by having a longer term plan.

                                            1. re: honkman

                                              San Diego's a haven of political corruption, and has been for decades. It would take a lot to surprise me.

                                          3. re: nileg

                                            As an economist and a chowhound, I think the reference by nileg to "short-term" is spot on. Sure, short-term, a lease to Cheesecake Factory probably maximizes financial stability. Governments are not supposed to have the goal of maximizing profit, but, stability is probably a good thing. However, that needs to be (and it isn't) counterbalanced by long-run concerns--image, growth, etc. Have a chain-filled mall in such a splendid location is short-sighted. Unless the location is unique and comes to be part of San Diego's identity, the long-run impact of the oportunity presented by the Old Police Headquarters will be minimal. The city government of Paris funded the Eiffel Tower (highly controversial back then) all those years ago and look what happened.....

                                            1. re: wrldtrvl

                                              Well, that settles it!

                                              An Eiffel Tower it is!

                                              I gotta go. Weekend in Niland, CA- anybody know and Chow-worthy places there? You know I'm stopping in El Centro for a Puffy Quesadilla.

                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                You want a tower, I got your tower right here. And it costs ya nothin'. Such a deal!

                                                Chow, bella.

                                                1. re: nileg

                                                  A tower?
                                                  No thanks.

                                                  Might you have a bridge or two? I could use one of those...

                                        2. We'll see all the famous franchises, with pockets full of cash, in abundence. If only they took a page from other cities like BOS, NYC, SFO, it'd bee so easy but for the greed.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cstr

                                            Pardon my ignorance, but, well, isn't that the way it goes in urban development/?

                                            Someone uses influence (cough, envelopes of cash) and then, magically, something happens and zoning, waivers and licenses are issued?

                                          2. Be happy, friends.

                                            Mozza is still in.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                              That's right it is still in! I happen to know that Pizzeria Mozza is still coming to the Old Police Headquarters.
                                              The OPH building is currently under full construction again and I have a friend that has a signed lease in the building and confirmed they are also a signed tenant along with the Cheesecake Factory. I can handle the Cheesecake Factory now that I know Mozza is indeed coming. They have the space looking towards Ruocco Park and if you drive by that's the space they are working on most, its going to be 2 levels.

                                            2. This is proof that Satan exists.

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: Dagney

                                                If Satans brings us Mozza downtown than praise The Lord!

                                                1. re: Sdfranco1

                                                  Okay, yeah, but cheesecake craptory? Ugh, why? I know why, but WHY?

                                                  1. re: Dagney

                                                    Cus it's what (SD) we do best!

                                                    1. re: Dagney

                                                      You would freak that in Waikiki, the Cheesecake Factory has at all times a wait of 2 hours+..
                                                      Excited for Mozza coming into SD..
                                                      Tourists at Cheesy...locals at Mozza!

                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                        Doesn't it just blow you away that people wait 2+ hours for CF and also Outback is the same, go figure. I'd rather give a local proprietor who puts their heart and sole in their business my support instead. If Mozza is anything like LA, can't wait, it'll put all these medicore places on notice.

                                                            1. re: cstr

                                                              Since it's an old police station, I just wonder if some outfit like Drunkin Donuts will open up a branch....

                                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                                I heard they're go'in to try to locate stores on the west coast again.

                                                2. Well I need to don my fireproof suit.

                                                  I have not been to Cheesecake Factory for years. I went several times along with groups, usually my then young son's sports teams, etc. The wait was dreadful. And, of course, next to nowhere to wait in any modicum of comfort, etc etc. I only ever ordered one thing--the Chinese lettuce cups. I was going through a phase where that was my favorite dish. So, I have tasted many many versions. Sad to say but the Cheesecake Factory's version was my hands-down favorite. Three different sauces (yes, probably too much sugar in a couple of them), very nice butter lettuce, and, key fo re, a panoply of fresh shredded veggies to mix in with the bowl of ground meat in hoisin sauce. I am not sure if this was even one iota authentic (authentic Chinese?) but it tasted great. I never had anything else there. A lot of what I saw on other's plates look liked super-sized coffee shop food. For me, though, the atmosphere trumps the food and I have not been back in years.