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Croce's to close

Just caught this on television: Ingrid Croce is saying she's closing her flagship downtown location. Didn't she just also announce that she's taking over Ave 5?

I heard this on a 30 second promo; apparently there will be more information at the 10:00 newscast.

Can't help but wonder why she's leaving the Gaslamp...

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  1. Went to their site, and there was a farewell message from Ingrid Croce:


    So what do y'all think: are we losing something important, or does it rate a shrug?

    7 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        Come on guys- it may be culinarily insignificant, but this was a pioneering business. She took a failing New Orleans themed spot when there was nothing and struggled for years and eventually earned success.

        My studio was blocks away for 8 years and I watched Croces become an anchor for the improvement of a blighted, nasty part of town.

        I admire that spirit, and she deserves recognition for that. As has been well-established here, I believe restaurants play more than the role of simply feeding us. They become focal points for business and social functions, and serve our community in many other ways.

        Croces was that place.

        I may not bemoan its loss, but I won't casually overlook it's significance.

        1. re: Fake Name

          Ingrid is a lovely women who worked that door like nobody's business.
          Wishing her all the best.

          1. re: Fake Name

            Agree, it's never a good thing to see a business close for whatever reason.

            1. re: cstr

              I could name several counter examples. :-)

        2. UT has an article on it.

          Apparently it's a lease dispute. No idea who is right, nor do I really care.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Yet another lease dispute caused by the greedy Gaslamp landlords. Frankly, I'd love to see more restaurants pack it up in the Gaslamp and move elsewhere but i suppose there will be others waiting to step in only to take it out on the consumer by offering mediocre, at best, product at inflated prices....I do wish Ingrid farewell and continued success with her new venture.

            1. re: El Chevere

              The real issue here sounds like their coexistence (or lack thereof) with the Pussycat Dolls Dollhouse. I can't really blame them at all, at least from the description of the situation in the articles I've read (which probably are one sided and biased, but even so...).

              I think Fakey's response is dead on.

          2. I agree with Fake, she was definitely a pioneer for business in the area, as were the owners of the (sadly) now defunct Fio's. Though, lord have the mercy, the food at Croce's is soooo bad.

            The Gaslamp Quarter is nothing more than a cheap, loud, classless, low-end, drunk fest these days. Guaranteed, there will be a hookah lounge, club, or a sports bar in the Croce's space within the year.

            17 Replies
            1. re: Dagney

              Remember when Fio's opened. The only other places down there was Croce's and a great little place called Morgan that had an excellent Caesar Salad.

              BTW- the Fio's owners? They own Brooklyn Girl.

              1. re: Fake Name

                I know....:/ I think they lost their touch, from what I have heard about Brooklyn Girl.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  I hear one of the Fio's principals is in PR. ;D

                    1. re: Fake Name

                      Hadn't thought about Morgan for years. We dined there with another couple soon after they opened in what seems like around 1978-ish. It was pretty far down 5th Ave I think, next to the Rescue Mission. Chef-Proprietor had a similar place in Lemon Grove of all places called The Blue Man.

                      It was quite an adventure going to Morgan at the time--upscale dining in the middle of skid row. It seems like Spaghetti Factory was already there. I don't think we'd ever heard the term Gaslamp then.

                      1. re: mcgrath

                        The Blue Man was an important place in San Diego's culinary history- I had forgotten Morgan was related. A number of chefs had come through there, including Ed (who's last name eludes me know) who went on to open The Brookside Farm B&B in Dulzura.

                        1978 might have been a little early for Morgan- I first went in the 80's and Horton had just opened. Gaslamp had launched, but was in its infancy.

                        Yes, Spaghetti Factory had opened- I remember they served me booze- I was there with two older women, I think they might have been 25 at the time.

                        1. re: Fake Name

                          I remember the Spag Factory, booze was about all that was good there!

                          1. re: cstr

                            Loved that Mizthrah pasta with Brown butter and cheese...still crave that bad boy..spumoni was always good.
                            I can see you all lighting those flame throwers..

                            Sledge..prayers to your beloved BOS.

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              LOVED the mizithra pasta. I now buy the cheese from Tip Top in Carlsbad (it's hard to find) and sorta make my own. Had never heard of it before Spaghetti Factory.

                              1. re: pine time

                                One may easily substitute Ricotta Salata- some say it's the same thing. Queso Fresco will also work.

                                And now I'm hungry for some.

                                1. re: pine time

                                  I have actually seen it recently at Vons. That was a good dish...I think the only one.

                              2. re: mcgrath

                                When I lived in Golden Hill in late 70's, early 80's, my sweetie and I dined at Morgan often. They served a luscious mushroom souffle as an amuse bouche. They could do things with chicken breasts that I still haven't figured out. Seems the owner was in jail for something, and his wife carried on the business for quite a while--and yes, the Blue Man was part of the family. Some wonderful memories from Morgan...

                          2. This makes me sad to read this. I grew up in San Diego and although I haven't been back in years, my fond memories always included Croce's.

                            I wanted to bring my fiance down to San Diego in June and suggested we stay in the Gaslamp - is it really the dive I am reading about now?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              It's a bit crazy. There are a ton sports bars and clubs, and the theme or "brand" of the Gaslamp is "party district."

                              1. re: Dagney

                                I agree with Dagney. I think "dive" is a bit misleading - dives typically have character associated with them.

                              2. re: CarrieWas218

                                It's no dive. It's very busy and has lots of great restaurants and attractions. There are many, many condos and apartment buildings that have been built since the 1990s and the average age is on the younger side, so the street scene on the weekends can be a little rowdy. Little Italy is great too.

                                1. re: CarrieWas218

                                  It depends on your tastes. If you like hanging out with drunkards in striped shirts and Affliction tees then the Gaslamp is awesome.

                                2. I think Ingrid should get together with the owners of Downtown Johnny Brown's and rechristen it Downtown Leroy Brown's.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                    Ha ha ha...baddest man in the whole damn town.

                                  2. When Croce’s opened it doors, it was part of the long-awaited renaissance of downtown. The downtown transformation had experienced some sparks and it’s metamorphosis was accelerating when this great venue opened. Downtown was attracting more, and more sophisticated, visitors to its restaurants. Sure, the balance was far too much toward over-priced Italian, but at least the presentation and quality of the food was slowly inching its way towards something more like SF.
                                    Then, just at the cusp of progress downtown, came the beginning of its horrific demise.
                                    The Padres ballpark was built , just a couple of blocks from the new, classy restaurants with outdoor evening seating, and the suave pubs. From the air, on approach from the east by airplane, the ballpark looked like the crater where a comet had stuck, a pock on the downtown landscape, a sore on the landscape, almost a disgrace.
                                    But the real impact of the Padres crater was its slow but inevitable impact on the heart of nighttime downtown San Diego. At ballparks, you have tailgate parties, and you eat hot dogs and drink a lot of beer.
                                    People who like tailgate parties loved downtown. It was a place to go before the game to get drunk, and it was the place to go after the game to get drunk and yell at each other about calls and plays during the game.
                                    No sophisticated diner will go downtown when a Padres game is on. Who wants to sip on fine wine and dine outside in the balm of a warm summer evening -- while listening to a throbing cheering crowd and working hard not to see the blinding lights?
                                    Lots of people do, as long as the booze keeps flowing. Our downtown has turned into a huge, unending tailgate party.
                                    It was the building of Petco Park that spelled the end of the rise of the new downtown San Diego and the beginning of its second transformation into a place for drunks and schoolkids who just want to party hearty. More power to them. We’re the ones who voted to build Petco Park.
                                    We need to adapt to this tragedy, though, because there’s no changing it. That huge, re-bar and concrete blemish that defines our current downtown won’t soon go away.

                                    17 Replies
                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                      Totally disagree.
                                      As a frequent fan of Petco Park, I don't know many who eat hot dogs and get drunk..yes, we have a good time and dine all around the area but don't blame Petco, btw, was voted in the top 10 ballparks in the US.
                                      Petco fans pretty much stay in East Village with some spill over to the Gaslamp.
                                      Don't see any problems when we dine at the Grant Grill or the Westgate when we become the 'sophisticated diner'.

                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                        Well, yes. I had a more peaceful neighborhood with the crackheads and homeless than the sports fans. After the ballpark opened, I had to keep the Padres schedule in my iCal because my clients wouldn't want to return once they'd come in on a game day. And working late those nights?


                                        I had more vandalism, more urination in the doorway, more puke to clean up.

                                        Granted, this had been my sob story in the Gaslamp as well. I needed a large, open and cheap space in which to run the studio, and that meant leasing in "fringe" areas.

                                        Once gentrification arrived, my days were numbered. The Hordes had arrived.

                                        To BC's point, I'm not a retail business, and others benefit in a very big way. I'm certain the taxes (property, sales, occupancy) raised are HUGE, and the city, overall benefits.

                                        But an DrChow points out, the East Village will clearly never be the same.

                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                          Good morning Fakey!
                                          East Village pre Petco was a blighted wasteland.
                                          Gaslamp is another animal and don't really see the huge spillover of baseball fans to the Gaslamp that first time poster, Dr.chow, refers to..referencing SF and SD in the same breath is ludicrous.
                                          IMHO, Petco has really added life to the area.
                                          Albeit, I don't live downtown and I'm sure I would have a different take.

                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                            The political ballyhoo known as Petco certainly has added life to the area. I call them woo-hoos.

                                            You know the kind- they always yell WOOHOO, and the WOOHOOS get louder with every drink.

                                            I remember I was working on a series of images for a local hotel, which required working at night in my (then) neighborhood, the East Village. I had a yound woman in the crew, and I felt terrible- once the game let out. The streets were filled with yoohoos- hanging out the car windows, yelling at my crewmember, walking through the set, stumbling along obnoxious and drunk. No, this was not some scantily-clad model. Just a decent, hardworking young woman.

                                            Look, I get it- I'm old, cranky and liked things on the downlow. I enjoyed the stark anonymity of a third-floor open loft in a very quiet, mostly abandoned neighborhood. I enjoyed my "blighted wasteland" as it was not the natural beauty of RSF or any other part of LA.

                                            How long did you live or work in East Village before the ballpark, and what was your own experience of the transition?

                                            Once I had to start scrubbing the grafitti "art" and skateboard stickers off the improvements I'd made to the building, the "improvements" got really tired real fast. The folks across the street had to put up a sign in their doorway "Don't piss here", as yoohoos were so fond of doing so.

                                            Yeah, I know- the masses voted for the expensive toy (ballpark), and got it. The masses rule, and there's no doubt many businesses were launched, condos built, and profits reaped. There's no doubt the tax increment is paying for many services, and on paper the deal is good.

                                            But this forum is about sharing personal experiences, and that's mine.

                                            And we did get Cafe Chloe. ; )

                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                              'You know the kind- they always yell WOOHOO, and the WOOHOOS get louder with every drink.'
                                              Were you following me at opening day?

                                              SD is 8th largest city in the US..pretty much all of downtown was a disgusting mess..

                                              I get that you don't have your studio anymore but urban renewal is a good thing and I've been to many a game, I don't see a lot of people 'wooo hooo' out of their cars..takes championship wins to do that.

                                              As far as blaming sports enthusiast for pissing in your doorways, I doubt that..most of us have decorum and use the restroom at the bars and restaurants we just frequented...some use Depends but that is another topic.

                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                Actually not having a studio had little to do with the political pork barrel known as the ballpark- I had a great landlord, and spent 15 years there, but it was time to downsize.

                                                It is far more disgusting mess now than it used to be- did you ever spend time there, or are you just parroting the politicos who stand to earn investment money? I promise- there was a lot less trash, a lot fewer cig butts, less vandalism.

                                                Have a walk the morning after "Mardi Gras" (in SD? HUH?) and see what the transient population leaves behind. In this case, transient means folks from outside the area- not the residents.

                                                BC, you know I'm a fan, and have my undying admiration. I'd even try the Muscle Biscuits (whatev) at Dobsons for you. But you'll not convince me to enjoy the devastation of the neighborhood I loved.

                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                  We respectfully agree to disagree..

                                                  You still da man Fakey!

                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                    Wait- we have to disagree respecfully?

                                                    Where's the fun?

                                                    I'd going to do some more shots- wooHOOO!

                                                    ; )

                                                  2. re: Fake Name

                                                    Bread and circuses, what more could you want?

                                            2. re: Fake Name

                                              I remember those days, too. I actually lived in a loft right at the corner of 10th and J - it's still there and is now a restaurant of some sort! It was...I don't know quite how to describe it. It was abandoned and there were drug dealers and homeless, but there was also the Farmer's Market (is that what it was called? You know, the huge market ringed with Mexican food stalls?) and it was walking distance to the Fritz Theater and honestly, it was some of the best times of my life! Of course I was in my early 20's, when it's easier to live like that, but even so.

                                              I think I lived downtown San Diego in that time period right in between the first wave of gentrification and the second. There wasn't much of a Little Italy, there was no East Village. But I also worked in the building that houses Croce's (before it was a hotel!) and so I am a little saddened for another part of my life then and there to disappear.

                                            3. re: DoctorChow

                                              365 days a year - 81 Padres home games a year = plenty of time to enjoy downtown and east village on non-game days. I think the current schedule gives you a 50% chance of avoiding Padres crowds during the months of April - September. Since post-season begins in October, you have almost a 100% chance of avoiding the Padres from October to the following April ;).


                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                To attribute the culinary shortcomings in the Gaslamp to the opening of Petco Park is a viewpoint devoid of factual foundation.

                                                Croce's opened in 1985. "Downtown was attracting more, and more sophisticated, visitors to its restaurants." Really? In 1985? Which restaurants, exactly?

                                                In 1985, "the balance was far too much toward over-priced Italian"? Wrong decade. That came much later.

                                                Petco opened in 2004. It seems to me that even then the Gaslamp's reputation for fine dining was laughable. Which "new, classy restaurants with outdoor evening seating" existed in the Gaslamp in 2004?

                                                Having strong opinions against the building of the ballpark is fine. But please don't blame Petco on a culinary demise in the area when there'd never been a culinary resurgence to begin with. The Gaslamp's evolution since 1985 is the story of catering to conventioneers/tourists and 20-something clabbers, not sophisticated diners. Adding baseball fans to the mix didn't change anything.

                                                1. re: mcgrath

                                                  Before 1980, downtown was a scary place to go at night, at least for people who didn’t live there, like me. Croce’s didn’t exactly bring fine dining to the area when it opened in 1985, but you’ll have to admit that it was “more sophisticated” than what existied before. People in clean clothes started going downtown at night. Croce’s was one of the early pioneers; other restaurants joined in and the character of at least a small part of downtown began to change in what I thought was a very positive way. Yes, the big wave of Italian (and other) restaurants came later, as the change accelerated. You can define “classy” any way you want, but the new restaurants were at least trying hard to tip in that direction, and by 2004 when Petco opened, the trend was just beginning to firm up. My feeling is that the Gaslamp area would have drawn increasingly more sophisticated venues beyond that point in time if the ballpark hadn’t opened.

                                                  1. re: DoctorChow

                                                    This is absolutely true - Downtown as a scary place to go lasted well into the 1990's. I used to go to Soma from 1992-94 (all ages punk rock club) when it was on 1st and Market, and the club was surrounded by rubble from the nearby construction. We would pay the homeless guys $5 to "watch our cars" in the parking lot.

                                                    The only place that seemed remotely safe was the Gaslamp Quarter, which was anchored by Croce's. I never actually ate at Croce's, but I am shocked its gone.

                                                    1. re: jmtreg

                                                      Soma at 1st and Market,,,:)) Ahh! Fond memories! I saw the Dead Milkmen there...

                                                      1. re: Dagney

                                                        Ohh, I saw them years before that, back when they were alive.

                                              2. I have fond memories of the place. It really was one of the first businesses to move into the Gas Lamp District and so it really did help to revitalize the place and while it's menu might not have evolved over the years to stay fresh the place did have a good live music scene so music fans could have a few drinks and an appetizer while they listened the live music from band which traveled to San Diego simply because Ingrid invited them and no other reason. It was her way of remembering her late husband who was rather famous in San Diego's music scene in the 1970's and who even had a few national hits. Look up Jim Croce for a blast from the past.

                                                My other reason to have fond memories of Croce's is because when I was 18, way back in 1994, a friend of mine worked there as a waiter and he used to sneak us alcoholic drinks which seemed so cool at the time to an 18 year old and his friends. ;)

                                                1. I really find this discussion of Petco and the changes it has caused downtown, interesting. I know Fakey wants to blame the rowdy drunks from Petco ruining the ambiance of downtown. I don't go to Petco that much, since I live and work north of the I-8 in the area otherwise known as "not San Diego" plus going to school in St. Louis, made me a Cardinal fan forever. When I have gone, I just haven't seen that much drunken behavior at Petco. The crowd is really fairly mellow and very family friendly, not like Dodger stadium or Comisky at all. My guess is that the club scene and the bars geared to 20 somethings down in that area has more to do with drunken behavior than Petco. Up in my area, Encinitas, especially along the 101 corridor, has seen a large increase in public drunkenness and the associated bad behaviors. Obviously there is no ballpark in Encinitas, but there is now a restaurant and pub scene. I just think blaming Petco for the problems downtown, is just picking on the easy target.

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: littlestevie

                                                    Even though it is only a one week event, I think you can blame Comic-Con just as much as Petco Park.

                                                    There are certain well-known businessmen around town, one that associates with chefs wearing fedoras, that have done a lot explode the nightclub scene in that area, too.

                                                    Most of those people clubbing downtown on the weekends probably haven't been to a major league ballpark in their lives.

                                                    1. re: littlestevie

                                                      East Village and Gaslamp are very different neighborhoods. I further acknowledge I'm no fan of "sports" other than motorcycling, and I don't mean spectating. And come to think of it, I did go to a supercross show once at the stadium, and couldn't get the hell out of there fast enough. buncha drunks there, too.


                                                      The thrust of my argument is the idea that some out-of-area carpetbaggers somehow decided that, because the East Village looked nothing like Disneyland's Main Street or a suburban strip mall that it somehow needed to be "fixed". Revitalized. Rehabilitated (re: Arlo Guthrie)or otherwise turned into a theme park for 20-something faux hipsters. And their little dogs, too. You know, the dogs they brought into a neighborhood so gosh-darn run down they don't have to clean up after them. They can take them back to the 23rd floor of their McApartment that costs them $350/month in community fees.

                                                      The neighborhood didn't need "fixing". And if this is "fixing", well than I'm a monkey's uncle. (Had to throw in a crotchey-old-man term)

                                                      And anyone north of the 8 is a Oakland fan, and cheer whenever they score a goal-oso. Or a whatever.

                                                      1. re: littlestevie

                                                        Restaurant owners have to adapt to their clientele if they want to survive, and in downtown San Diego, for 81 days (about 22%) of the year, that clientele is dominated by baseball fans. I have no issue whatsoever with baseball fans but in general they don’t tend to be gourmet diners. Post-2004, restaurants in the area were forced to accommodate the preferences of baseball fans -- people who wanted to eat and drink before and after ballgames. That in itself isn’t a problem either. The problem with the ballpark is that it was sited way too close to the Gaslamp. Dining cultures don’t always overlap very well. Had the ballpark been located further east, even by as little as a few more blocks, I think the culinary character of our downtown would have evolved differently. There would have been an interesting area around the ballpark with a certain level of food quality and service, and another in the Gaslamp area that was more sedate and upscale. The 20-somethings that took over the Gaslamp did so because the restaurant-bars evolved to offer food, drink, and atmosphere that was to their liking. Which is to say that the culinary preferences of a majority 20-somethings is similar to that of ballpark fans. That, in my humble opinion, is the connection between the ballpark and the hoards of 20-somethings that now dominate Fifth and vicinity. From the mid-80s to the mid-00s, downtown was gradually turning into an inviting place to go, and Croce’s was one of the places that led the way. I’m sad to see it close, even though I only ate there a few times. I was a Jim Croce fan in the 70s and thought it was great to have a restaurant in town that reflected on him and his music.

                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                          Hmmm...do you have a source for your comment about baseball fans not being gourmet diners? Is there peer reviewed research data to back up your claim?

                                                          I think the influx of young 20-somethings looking to party and have a good times is more probably the result of the quasi upscale clubs that opened offering "beautiful people" the chance to be seen, expensive bottle service, too cool for school bouncers and door policies and marginal entertainment. Not to mention the general change in the social values and conduct of the 20-something generations for whom partying into oblivian was acceptable.

                                                          All those clubs that the Jim Brennan enterprises opened had one objective (other than to make a ton of $$$ really fast) and that was to attract a young, hip and trendy clientel with expendable income. They did that very well and very successfully. If I were interested in *blaming* someone, or something for the Gaslamp degenerating into a miasma of inebriated young hipsters and old fart conventioneers - and for the record, I am not, blaming just isn't my style - I'd be looking more at the clubs, the big hotels on the Bay and the convention center for driving the change more than Petco Park.

                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                            There's something here that many people are missing:

                                                            In order to have an effect on the surroundings, there must be a critical number of baseball fans attending the games. Unless the Dodgers are in town, that usually isn't the case. :)

                                                            1. re: RB Hound

                                                              You've got a point. Dodgers or Cards, they usually/used to, also get a good crowd for Cardinal games.

                                                            2. re: DiningDiva

                                                              Thank you for your thoughtful and interesting response, DiningDiva. I’m not into the blame game either. For me, the loss of Croce’s has re-opened the question of what is and what could have been downtown. My opinion is that it could have been something much greater than it is. Who can say with certainty which had the greater influence on what it has in fact become. You have your opinion about that and I have mine. No, of course I don’t have peer-reviewed research regarding the culinary preferences of ball park attendees, but then neither do you regarding your remarks about the quasi-upscale restaurants and your Brennan theory. It’s a question of the chicken and the egg, I think, and I’ll stick to my guns when it comes to the reality that restaurant owners adapt to serve the clientele they anticipate or are seeking. (It’s off-topic, but I also think that the siting of Petco Park is esthetically displeasing, per my comment about it’s appearance from the air. It makes downtown look off balance.) Restaurants can’t have a daily revolving door of ambience, service, and food quality. It’s one thing or another. I’m really just sighing, not blaming, when it comes to the location of Petco Park and and it’s long-term influence on the evolution of downtown. The park itself is really quite attractive, and the people who go there deserve to have fun places to go to before and after a game. It’s just in the wrong place.

                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                I am with Diva...I don't think the opening of Petco has had a negative impact on the dining experience in the Gaslamp--not even sure one existed prior to Petco.

                                                                Rather, I blame it on the 20-somethings,especially the ones who inhabit The Gaslamp on the weekends--80% of whom don't live there and whose highest educational attainment will be a GED degree. Combine this with restauranteurs who pay ridiculously high rents who pass off subpar, non-prime cuisine at exorbitant prices to unsuspecting, captive conventioneer audiences.

                                                                1. re: El Chevere

                                                                  I believe that if Petco Park had been located a little further east, around 10th or 11th, say, the party-hearty district would have developed in that area, rather than where it is now. In that case, the gaslamp area may well have then evolved into the culinary core of our city, attracting restaurants with the finest dining San Diego has to offer. That would have been "awesome", and the best for everyone. A culinary core in the center of the city is what I was hoping for when Croce's opened. Croce's itself didn't have very good food, but it attracted an eclectic, interesting crowd, not rowdy "20 somethings". Alas, we only had one shot at developing downtown, and in my opinion the city blew it by siting Petco Park essentially right on top of the Gaslamp area. So the Gaslamp today is what it is. I know others differ in their opinions on this and I have no "proof" to support mine. It's just conjecture on my part. At the time Croce's opened it was excited, wishful thinking. Again, just a big sigh on my part, not blame. I'm sure that the city planners anticipated a different outcome.

                                                                  1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                    San Diego is, if nothing else, suburban. Most of what happens, happens outside of downtown...or at least it did until very recently. It has absolutely no history of a strong city center, let alone one with a lot of fine dining. In fact, the city center was for years dominated by stinky tuna boats, seedy dive bars and strip joints. Until recently Little Italy and Barrio Logan (nee Logan Heights) were not exactly prime addresses.

                                                                    Why do you think it would have developed one had not Petco landed where it did? The convention crowd more or less assured that it cater to a clinetel that was either here on a shoestring or expense account.

                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                      I think a "classy" restaurant area was the intended outcome, originally. I think that the area had just begun to move, howbeit very slowly, in that direction, but it froze out at a quality level that fell far short of what it could have become once the ball park went up. I also think that a lot of those convention attendees actually have farily deep pockets, thanks in no small part, in fact, to their expense accounts and/or thier occupations. Not all of the conventions are like Comic Con. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that the trend would have been for a lot of fine dining establishments to want to locate in that area, along with numerous "upscale" and also moderatly-priced venues. I think there would have been far fewer sports bars. I agree that SD is essentially sub-urban, but it still could have had a culinary core. Why do I think all of this? Opinion and conjecture, that's all. Who would want to eat at a genuinely classy restaurant when you have to deal with blaring lights and noise in the distance? Is that going to draw people from La Jolla downtown to dine? Due respects, DiningDiva, we disagee.

                                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                        I think you may be correct that the restaurants in the Gaslamp would have been more expensive and looked more like fine dining, but its probably wishful thinking to say that the quality of the food would have been much better than what we have.

                                                                        1. re: JRSD

                                                                          Yes, perhaps just wishful thinking on my part. But once upon a time there was a ray of hope that I think no longer exists. We can debate this forever -- we'll never know.