New and longtime popular businesses continue to enhance Del Mar Plaza’s reputation as a ‘special gathering place’


By Diane Y. Welch

While shopping online has become popular, many say nothing can beat first-class, face-to-face service in a beautiful setting.

It’s an advantage that the Del Mar Plaza has over internet shopping. Annie and Chris Glenn, owners of two plaza stores – Urban Girl Accessories and San Diego Surf Company – agree and make it a policy to go the extra mile for their clientele.

“We believe strongly in customer service,” said the Glenns who offer drive-up service. “Customers can call ahead if they know what they need and we will meet them on the curb to get their credit card, run the charge, and package up their item. All without having to get out of their car,” said Annie, who also caters to customers’ pets by providing complimentary doggie treats.

Just prior to opening their stores two years ago, the Carmel Valley husband-and-wife couple were considering their options for the optimum retail location, and chose Del Mar Plaza because it fit specific parameters.

Their stores needed a location with character, accessible to both local clientele and tourists and close to the beach. “And one of the best parts is the fact that the Plaza has plenty of parking ” said Annie.

All plaza stores offer a two-hour complimentary parking validation for customers, a big asset during summer months when street parking is scarce. A convenient downtown Del Mar location and sweeping view of the Pacific make the Plaza –founded in 1989 – unique.

Since the upscale building changed ownership three years ago upgrades and improvements have been made, said Michael Hull, vice president of Madison Marquette, management for the plaza.

New signage and lighting have been installed throughout and the buildings painted and all wood trim refinished.

Honey-hued teak outdoor furnishings are a recent addition to the Plaza’s exterior patio areas. They provide comfort and relaxation for visitors who stop to absorb the Plaza’s European-style atmosphere.

A new roof has been installed, common area restrooms upgraded, and a half-million dollar renovation made to the deck on the Plaza Level between Il Fornaio — a founding tenant — and its sister restaurant Enoteca Fornaio.

Mike Hislop, CEO for Il Fornaio, announced that the leases for both restaurants have been extended. “We look forward to serving Del Mar residents and visitors our authentic Italian food and drinks for many years to come in this spectacular setting,” he said.

Anticipated changes in tenants, for example, The Harvest Ranch Market vacated its space earlier this year, has provided opportunity.

“We are excited with all the interest in the Market space from various prospects,” said Kelley Maher, senior vice president of leasing with Madison Marquette. “We are looking for the right use for this one-of-a-kind location and we are seeking an operator and use that the community and local residents will be drawn to visit and shop.”

Longtime tenants say they look forward to new tenants moving into the Plaza.

“The Plaza has always been a big part of Del Mar,” explained Kipp Downing who, since 1989, has owned and operated Pacifica Del Mar, the plaza’s popular seafood restaurant. “People want to see the Plaza do well, especially all of the owners here. I hope the restaurant that goes in where Flavor used to be is a better restaurant than mine, that’s how spaces like this work. I want the place to be full and vibrant.”

Downing said he recently made changes to enhance his business.

“We’re starting to focus a little more on our catering business,” said Downing, who also noted that they are doing things such as marketing the Pacifica name and food for a licensed branch of the eatery at the San Diego International Airport. Pacifica has also started a locals Sunday Night, which includes no corkage fee for 92014 residents with identification. In addition, Pacifica offers half-off wine Thursdays, Happy Hour all night Monday, and Wednesday $6 Martini Nights.

Pacifica gives back to the community in a variety of ways, including hosting a Vitners Dinner that supports the Village with a spilt of the costs. Pacifica is also a paid sponsor for each Holiday Village event, and Pacifica sponsors locals schools, including Torrey Pines High School and the booster clubs.

Elsewhere in the Plaza, Dan Schreiber, the owner of the Chinese eatery Del Mar Rendezvous, says business is “growing, thanks to the very loyal and wonderful regular guests and the friends and family that they continue to introduce to our restaurant.” New incentives include introducing gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan menus, completing a $400,000 remodel two years ago, and “constantly reinvesting in the restaurant.” In addition, Schreiber is making a constant push to give back to the community, including donating food to local events (up to $15,000 worth last year alone), and even a park bench. Del Mar Rendezvous offers Half-Priced Beer and Sake Tuesday, a loyalty program and more.

The Plaza Level remains home to the restaurants Pacifica Del Mar; Il Fornaio and Enoteca Del Fornaio; and to apparel purveyors Peaches En Regalia; Chico’s; Gerhard; Gary’s Studio; White House/Black Market; and Loghman Jewelers.

World-renowned photographer Michael Seewald, a long-time tenant, has relocated his gallery into the Plaza Level adjacent to new tenant and fine artist Erik Skoldberg.

Skoldberg’s grand opening was marked with over 300 fans of yoga convening within the Plaza Deck area for a mass yoga-in that benefited Jeans4Justice, a charity that helps prevent sexual violence.

P.S. Platinum Properties has recently moved into the Market Level, joining Ooh La La, a ladies fashion boutique; Del Mar Nails and Spa; Del Mar Chocolate Bar; Haim, Ltd., a full-service salon; Shimbashi Izakaya, a sushi and sake bar; and the Pacifica Breeze Café.

The Street Level comprises restaurants Smashburger and Del Mar Rendezvous; Banana Republic; Sunglass Hut; Folio, a showroom and kitchen design studio; Urban Girl Accessories; San Diego Surf Company; and Del Mar Art Center.

With the Del Mar Plaza at 29 percent vacant it allows the opportunity to bring new excitement and endeavors are underway to achieve full capacity, said Maher.

“Our vision is in keeping with our overall leasing efforts to create a ‘special gathering place’ for everyone to enjoy,” said Maher.

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Note: Business spotlights are developed through this newspaper’s advertising department in support of our advertisers.