Del Mar … a tasteful slice of paradise
By Carlo Coppo
Del Mar residentI cannot recall the last time I, or anyone else for that matter, returned from Europe complaining that the village sidewalks were too narrow or the sidewalk cafes interfered with either my ability to move freely about the town or my visual appreciation of the scenery.
I have lived in Del Mar for 32 years and have enjoyed what this village was when I arrived, what it has become, and what it will be through the vision and selfless energy of those responsible for its present imprint on and appeal to all, young, old and in between.
It is the pride that I live here and it is with pride that I experience the delight that sweeps across the faces of those I meet when I tell them I live in Del Mar.
With that being said, permit me to provide some hopefully ennobling commentary from a true “old timer” Del Martian.
Two outdoor cafe experiences first attracted me to the openness and congeniality of this village: the deck of the Firepit, now the Poseidon, which, from one point of view “encroached” on the beach, and the outdoor cafe atmosphere of Del Mar Danish, which reminded me so much of the ineffable invitation open air camaraderie offers to residents and visitors alike in Europe and stateside.
Del Mar Danish was a gathering place of friendship, families and conversation, morphed into other patisseries and eventually, through dedication and emotional and financial investment of our beloved Sulyn and John, created Cafe Secret, a true gift to the community.
Yes, the sidewalk would be wider were the improvements not there, but this graceful progress was accomplished legally, reasonably, involved great financial investments by the visionary owners, and is a tribute to what this quintessential village has become. The process worked.
Another example is the Plaza. When I arrived in Del Mar it was a strip mall with a blacktop parking lot peppered with potholes, Zel’s Liquor, Windmill Farms, a flower shop and the mandatory real estate office. Zel was a friend and I featured him in my reminiscence about my arrival in Del Mar, published a couple of years ago in the Del Mar Times in their “I Remember When …" series, entitled “How I Bought Zuni House in Six Hours.” Visionaries like Zel treasured Del Mar as a montage of Europe and a little slice of paradise on earth.
The plaza was bitterly opposed, the opposition was incorporated into the award-winning design, yet who, today, does not delight in taking a glass at the end of a long day at Enteca overlooking the view corridor to end all view corridors? Again, the system worked. The same can be said for L’Auberge.
I walked Del Mar to prepare this commentary and found the sidewalk cafes on 15th to be consistent both in design and execution with the rest of our inviting village. For example, walking north on the west side of Camino del Mar from 11th to 15th streets, one encounters no less than 34 alleged “impediments” to straight line pedestrian travel along a meandering “sidewalk” that varies from four and a half to five feet in most areas to seven to nine feet in others.