Escondido, CA
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Escondido businesses that have faded away



A vibrant city has to evolve to remain so. Change is inevitable; especially in the Southern California Sun Belt, of which Escondido is an integral part in a bursting San Diego County. As a city grows, businesses come and go; here today, gone tomorrow. It’s called progress. For the good? That sometimes is debatable. In previous essays, I’ve talked about how different Escondido’s Grand Avenue was 60-plus years ago, and about some of the “off Grand” businesses.

Today, I want to take you on another trip down memory lane. During those 60-plus years, since 1952 when I started work as a young, raw, rookie sports writer with the former Daily Times-Advocate, there have been an untold number of businesses and establishments that called Escondido home. Some flourished for years, others only a short time; but today, all are gone. Some were replaced under new management with a new name; others lost out to new technology; some just got tired and closed up shop; others withered away when the populace lost interest in the fad. Some were memorable; some were, well, so-so.

One of the more memorable (if that’s a proper usage) – and I think that many Escondidans would agree – was the Escondido Village Mall on land at Ash Street and Valley Parkway where the cows of Ed Bulen’s Dairy once roamed.

The covered mall, one of the first of its kind, anchored by the Walker Scott and Sears department stores, was a unique, intimate, pleasant place to just roam. Its court in front of Walker Scott was a favorite place to hold public events. “Progress” in the form of the planned North County Fair mall at the south end of Kit Carson Park proved the eventual demise of Escondido Village. What a loss.

Just east of Escondido Village was the Vineyard, another unique “mall,” this one a two-story wooden structure with a central covered stage for public events, but it didn’t really “catch on.” Some of its tenants were a popular wine and cheese shop, Country Gentleman’s Restaurant (which later closed and reopened under new ownership as Gentlemen’s Choice), a dollar movie theater, the Patio Playhouse and the KOWN radio station.

Escondido has always had places to eat. You didn’t have to leave town to enjoy yourself at a pleasant eatery. There was the Fireside at the corner of Washington and Centre City Parkway, popular with Escondido’s “establishment.” But my all-time favorite was Chuck’s Steak House, a free-standing restaurant in front of the Escondido Village Mall. Remember the lantern wine bottles on which the menu was printed, one on each table?

Downtown in the 300-block of East Grand Avenue was Davey Jones’ Meat Locker, which was replaced in the same location by Mulvaney’s and its water glasses, consisting of a variety of jars. At the corner of Grand and Centre City Parkway was Bob’s Big Boy, later replaced by Carrow’s.

There have always been a slug of pizza joints in town, but three that I and my family enjoyed were Shakey’s at the corner of Brotherton and Centre City, with its picnic-style tables; Strawhat Pizza on North Escondido Boulevard just north of Washington Avenue, with its waiters and their 1920s-style straw “boaters;” and John’s Pizza on South Escondido Boulevard, with its picnic-style tables and free old-time silent comedy movies. Fond memories!

When the city had less than 10,000 population 65-plus years ago, the popular spot for Escondido teens – young adults, too – was the Car Hop, an intimate drive-in at the corner of Juniper and Grand, ala the movie “American Graffiti.” Years later, the A&W Drive- In opened in the 100 block of West Washington, but it just didn’t have the charm of the Car Hop.

A restaurant with real class – panache, if you will – was Pat Brillo’s, an adobe, hacienda-style offering Mexican cuisine on South Escondido Boulevard. It was succeeded by Los Amigos on the site now occupied by an equally classy Hacienda de la Vega. One thing that made you want to return to Pat Brillo’s was the most congenial host by the same name. A popular “watering spot” was the Red Coach Inn on Pine Street (frontage road off Centre Parkway) between Grand and Valley Parkway.

The Brookside Winery and its tasting room held sway for a few years on South Escondido Boulevard (on the site now occupied by Canterbury Gardens). Just down the block at the corner of the Boulevard and Brotherton Road was a hotel with restaurant, but it couldn’t make it, being too far off the beaten trail.

Escondido at one time supported two major bowling alleys: Escondido Bowl at the northwest corner of Washington and Centre City; and Palomar Lanes, the more popular on North Escondido Boulevard between Washington and Mission. Escondido Bowl was the first to close. Why can’t the populace support a major bowling alley?

Another activity that caught our fancy for many years before waning interest caused its demise was the public roller rink. Remember Chet Love’s Ups ‘n Downs roller skating rink on Broadway just north of Mission? (The building is still there.) It was a place where all ages enjoyed themselves.

How about Golfcraft, that manufactured golf equipment, on West Mission; and a little farther west on Mission was Calavo, an avocado-packing plant.

There was K-Mart at the corner of Mission and Quince; Montgomery Ward on North Escondido Boulevard; Handyman hardware farther north on Escondido Boulevard near Mission; Mayfair Market at the intersection of Hickory and Valley Parkway; Fed- Mart on East Valley Parkway; North County Bank at Fourth and Escondido Boulevard; the movie complex on East Valley; and the last hurrah for the drive-in movie theater was at Mission and Quince (now site of the swap meet).

And last, but not least, was the demise of the Daily Times-Advocate under publisher Carl Appleby at its locations in the 200 blocks of East Valley Parkway and East Pennsylvania.

All of these businesses contributed in some way to the growth of the city, but now have faded into history and our memories.

* * *

Ron Kenney, a 60-year resident of Escondido, was a reporter and editor for the former Daily Times-Advocate from 1952 to 1979 and was a copy editor on the editorial pages of the San Diego Union from 1985 to 1997.

* * *


  1. I sure recall a many of those places, many memories from my youth as a toddler in the early 70s… What about Home Federal on Grand Ave and JC Penney with the mezzanine upstairs? The EHS campus and old gym on the hill? How about the Wild Animal Park with its GREAT original amenities such as Pumzika Point, Mahala Ampitheater and Monorail before it became corporate garbage and all that disappeared? How about Frances Ryan’s oak covered ranch at East End? What about the endless orchards and derelict vineyards? All are gone but not forgotten.

    • Janis says:

      Cecil lived and loved Escondido i think you are his son I was a old girl friend from his high school days lots if memories from then we rode scooters all over town and me horses Janis

  2. Lisa Ellis says:

    Our family always went to George and Ann’s for a hamburger and a slushie, and then to Foster Freeze for an ice cream cone.(in the 50’s & 60’s)

  3. Hello Ron, we enjoyed reading your article going down memory lane. My father-in-law Chet Loveberg started Ups-n-Downs Roller Rink in 1959! The family operated it until 2005 when it was sold and the money was used to purchase a marina and RV park in Oregon. A move that we’ve never regretted but sure miss ol’ Escondido. Been back many times to sit on the empty parking lot and remember those days!
    Larry and Gloria Loveberg
    Kane’s Marina

    • ThanaLorraine says:

      Gloria, your family brought so much joy to the once wonderful town “Escondido”. So many want that rink to open again. Mom and Dad had us kids in the rink in the early 60’s Seems I had skates on more than shoes for 20 years. Loved every moment. Many Thanks to you and your family,
      always, The Byars Family

    • Tina Cacioppo Schneider says:

      OMGosh, I’m from Escondido and remember Ups n Downs when it opened. My father would take me often. Can’t believe you own Kane’s Marina. We used to moor our boat there and I love, love, love Detroit Lake. sometime in the spring I’ll make a run up from Keizer and introduce myself!

    • Kim Roberts Tipton says:

      Ups and Downs Roller Rink is where I first learned to skate back in 1964! Oh how I loved to go there on Saturday mornings and get a frozen Milky Way! I have been away since 1975 and have not been back to Escondido. All my family that lived there are back here in MS.

  4. Pamela Hasty (formerly Brehm) says:

    Wow, at one time my, Dad used to work at the Times Advocate as a Linotype operator, during the ownership of Mr. Appleby. Dad still has a T.A. ashtray he was given.

  5. Carol says:

    Born at Palomar hospital..1957…all of those establishments bring memories. Thanks for the reminder of my youth!

  6. Cindy Chadwick says:

    My family moved to Escondido in 1962. My father was the head pasteurizer at Bernard’s Drive Up Dairy for many years. He just passed away several weeks ago – and my thoughts return to many happy Saturdays playing in the huge hay barn there. I have many memories watching the Escondido Village Mall take shape and all the businesses that surrounded that area during those times. Now when I return, there is a bit of sadness and I see the place through my mind’s eye, I see that used to be there – I often lost patience when my folks would do that when at their hometowns. Now I get it. It was a wonderful place to grow up. He didn’t mention Rube Nelson’s market … oh my goodness … or Hunt’s Toys or McCains Diner on Grand Ave. Too many sweet places to mention. The Ritz Theater where we first fell in love with movies. Thanks for the memories!

  7. Nancy Lass Waller says:

    Thank you for reminding us of all the wonderful things Escondido had. When my parents came to Escondido in 1952. I so remember Grand Avenue looking in some of the stores that we never went into because my parents were poor. I remember telling myself at an young age, I will buy shoes in D’Agusta Shoes store some day!! I will shop in The Mercantile store someday. Grand Avenue shops/stores was the in place to go as my parents did not have a car so we walked everywhere. On sundays we walked from Dreamland Motel next to Grape Day Park to Grace Lutheran Church on 13th and Redwood every Sunday. I loved playing at Grape Day Park. I loved going into Rube’s Corner grocery store. I loved Citracado days. I loved the Christmas parades up Grand Avenue every year. Thanks for the Memories of years passed of our Hidden Valley, Escondido.

  8. Robert Mosemak says:

    I came here 1970 joined the police department located in the adobe city hall corner of Valley and Grand. Back then we only had 2 or 3 cars out on patrol. This was a beautiful town back then, then 1978, gangs began forming and the rest is history.

  9. Guy Herald says:

    Things I Miss! The Teepee! The Original Mall on Valley Pky! The Cruze parking on the weekends in the mall and big bear parking lots! Ken Roberts men’s store! The Mercantile! JC Penny’s on Grand, the original theater on Grand, the go carts on rocksprings! Lustre Craft on 2nd St, Escondido Paint and Decorating,but most of all walking into a business like color tile telling the salesman I like this and they would say take it home and see how it looks! A hand shake was as good as a contract!! Yes Old Escondido was Great!

  10. Jeffery Moore says:

    Born at Palomar Hospital – 1968 – in the old building before the “tower” was built. Buying shoes at D’Augusta Shoes, shopping a Ken Roberts, working summers in high school at Emerson’s Intrinsic’s, the Coin shop run by Sid Emerson next door on Broadway, Escondido Village Mall – followed by The Vineyard, Ferrara’s Winery, The Elk’s Lodge on the corner of Escondido and Washington – next to Escondido Bowl – across the street from Foster’s Freeze, the Skate Park now where Major Market stands, the citrus grove at the north end of Kit Carson Park, the Mexican Hat slide – the wagon slide, Patio Playhouse in the Vineyard, The Artisan’s Loft owned by the Blocks in the Vineyard, Licorice Pizza, Straw Hat Pizza, Rube Nelson’s, 31 Flavors ice cream across from Palomar Hospital, The Gentleman’s Choice in the Vineyard, Los Amigo’s, riding motorcycles at the “dust bowl” where Stone Brewery is today, Hollandia Dairy on the corner of Felicita and “395”, San Pasqual High School playing home games at Escondido High, Friday after football game meeting for pizza at Round Table on the corner of Ash and Washington, Westfield Shopping Mall opening in 1986, open campus for lunch at SPHS, The Wild Animal Park Monorail (Safari Park?), Talone’s Meat Market, Via Rancho Parkway and Bear Valley Parkway being single lane, Weir Brother Adobe Plant in Kit Carson Park, Weir Brother Adobe Homes, Las Palmas going through from South Escondido Blvd to Bear Valley Parkway, gas stations on all four corners of Ash and Valley Parkway, 9th Ave Cafe, Champion’s Cafe, Mikki’s Restaurant – Thursday night Prime Rib Beef Bones Special, Dante’s Mexican Food on South Escondido Blvd, — Coming of age during the 80’s in Escondido was the best of times…

    • Jimmy page says:

      Cruising valley was awesome !! Swensons ice cream, licorice pizza big bear market fedmart gemco the drive inn I could go on such a shame they let it go to our neighboring country to the south 😂😂😂😂😂

  11. Daniel Hagen says:

    Shoppin at the BiG E market. Eating chinese food at the grand China cafe. Getting our car worked on at Art Simpson and son garage. The smell of new Jeans associated with the start of school purchased at JC Pennys. The Tepee blew down in the big Santa Ana of Dec 1977

    • Lil says:

      Wow! Just stumbled across this because I was trying to look up the old Shakey’s Pizza Parlor on Center City Parkway , with the (glass bottle door) that my pop, Robert “Buzz” Simpson (from Art Simpson and Son Garage) occasionally used to take us to. Thanks for fondly remembering him, and the garage in your comments. Of course there was Bob’s Big Boy that had the giant “Bob” standing outside, or the original Denny’s (I think it’s now an “Pho” restaurant). It was always a special treat to go out for supper. I too, remember Walker Scotts, TG&Y and Farrell’s with their Pig Trough (never got to order that!), separate, but still on one end of the mall, and if I’m not mistaken, there was a Mayfair market on the other end of the old Escondido Mall, and especially the big animated Christmas display in the center of the mall with Santa’s elves, busy sawing and building toys. We always went to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the giant lighted Christmas tree on 5th, and the giant Christmas Book (somewhere) that simply said, Merry Christmas. As kids, our favorite store for Christmas shopping was Coronet’s, downtown on Grand, that later became Yardage Town fabric store.

      Mom and Pop drove us kids around the vacant land, to see where they were going to build the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The Burger Bar and 31 Flavors that were just down the street from us, in the same parking lot as Pic N Save, before they moved, and later became Big Lots, and across the street from the original Art Simpson Garage (which was before my time). The Winchell’s donuts was kitty-corner across the street. We could drive through the Picnic’n Chicken barn (I’m sure I spelled that wrong), H.Salt Fish n’ Chips, and KFC was in a little building on Valley Parkway, and they only had one kind of chicken, and it always came in a bucket. There was no such thing as “wings”, they came with your regular chicken and the white meat was always included at the same price. When they came out with extra crispy, it became our favorite, and then there was the BBQ chicken, wow, that sure was good too. The first Taco Bell was on Washington, and is now a German restaurant, we could talk to Jack’s head to order at Jack in the Box (before they blew him up of course), I remember walking to the Big E market to buy penny candy. I remember when they changed the McDonald’s sign from: 1 Million sold, to 2 Million sold, and when we had our first Whopper from Burger King, they were huge!

      We could catch poly wogs in the creek at Grape Day park, and the Christmas Parade was on Broadway, right in front of Mr. Frosty’s, where I had my first job. My pop used to talk about going to Escondido High School on the hill. I believe the Vineyard Twin Cinemas was built in the 1970’s, I remember going to see E.T. at the theater there with my sister, but several years earlier, we went to the Ritz to see The Sound of Music, Song of the South, and the Gnome Mobile. Went to see the Wizard of Oz at the theater next to Montgomery Wards, I think that was the first time I saw it in color. I remember the bowling alley, Builder’s Emporium and Handyman, the Roller Rink and A&W. We went to the old Drive-In movie theater, before it was the Swap Meet. There was “the Train” mural painted on the side of PlayCo on Grand ave and Kalmia? (and for some reason, the train mural was controversial), where my mom took me so I could I get Burt Ward’s (Robin) autograph, and once upon a time, Caesar Romero came to town to a men’s clothing store, my mom went to see him. I remember shopping at Alpha Beta and Big Bear, and good old Fedmart, Fedco and Gemco. I believe the old J C Penney’s was on Grand Ave, and so was Sears, in a single story brick building on 2nd? before they built the big Sears near the Vineyard, before there was the North County Fair Mall. I remember going the JC Penney’s on Grand to get school clothes, and the old Sears & Roebucks on 2nd ave, and Grant Jr. High School. The Bank of America on 2nd, used to be Safeway, I think. There was good old K-Mart and their Blue Light Specials, that’s now Lowes. I remember when Escondido only had 1 zipcode, and then there was the thing with “East Valley Parkway North”…what was that about? And of course, I remember the Teepee! Ah, the good old days.

  12. Ardis Wedemeyer says:

    Loved this article. We visited Escondido for a memorial this past weekend but moved from here 15 years ago.
    We were trying to remember the name of the fruit & vegetable market that was where Sprouts is now. It was so sad to see the Times Advocate is now a small weekly paper. We moved to Roseville to be closer to kids (we raised in Escondido) and our grandkids. We enjoyed dinner at the Brigadeen but were surprised at all the changes in our hometown.

  13. Miles osland says:

    I worked at Mr. Steak in the mid 70’s

  14. Kama says:

    Don’t forget Farrell’s ice cream parlor!

  15. Frances Raedeker says:

    I have been coming and going to Escondido since 1962. We were so happy in our life here. We moved to Sunset Drive with 7 children on an acre of orange trees which, we were told, had once been part of the biggest orange grove in California! When the
    kids would try to forage in the kitchen for a snack between meals, I would say, “Go eat an orange!” They were always hungry! My favorite grocery store then was Westside Market though my mother (who lived here about five years before we did) loved Big E.
    My parents had a hilltop home off of North Ash and they were so thrilled when their nighttime view began to sparkle with the lights of the new Escondido Mall!

    Our family would go to their house to sit on the boulders on the west side of their house to watch the city fireworks which were set off from Escondido High. Sometimes coming home from their house we stopped at Thrifty Drugs and bought ice cream cones for five cents each.

    We went to Seattle for a year once but the children returned to graduate from Orange Glen and we brought back a little addition to our family who, in about three years played Felicita’s baby in the lovely historic pageant,“Felicita,” in Kit Carson Park.

    And, remember The North County Civic Light Opera that was in the old high school auditorium where the musicals, “Pajama Game” and “Brigadoon”were so ambitiously and beautifully undertaken?

    Yes, Escondido was a wonderful place to raise a family.

    Thank you to Ron Kenney.

  16. Jeff Baker says:

    Great memories. I always enjoyed the excellent local news and editorials in the T-A with Ron Kennedy running the show during the 60’s and 70’s. I remember after shopping at Safeway, we would go over the parking lot to the Thrifty’s for their 5 cent cones…what a deal.

    I don’t know if the old DMV ~1600 block Escondido Avenue is there, but everyone of my era remembers showing up there right on their
    16th birthday to take the anticipated/dreaded road test part of the exam. BTW, what happened to Driver’s Ed one’s sophomore year? It was everyone’s favorite class, but somewhere along the line it got ditched…it was not offered at my kid’s high school.

    In high school I worked at ENB, where you could go through the underground ‘drive thru’…remember that? Rube Nelson would drive his Model A down there and I remember loading bags of small bills and change into the pickup bed for him to use in cashing checks down at the ‘Country Corner’. Once before he drove off, I asked him if they would be safe back there, and he picked up the shotgun off the seat next to him, smiled and said “I’m always loaded for bear, son. Should be just fine” and drove off.

    And who remembers the billboard on 78 going west out of town, which featured a water skier and said “Tan Your Hide in Oceanside”? I still have a picture somewhere of it taken Dec of 1967 (from the T-A??), covered with snowflakes. Kind of incongruous. At Lincoln School that day we had a snowball fight at recess. But it was pretty much gone the next day. Also always enjoyed the Public Library. I remember hanging out there if a family member was being seen across the street with Dr. Graybill. Escondido in the 1960’s and 70’s. Best place in the world to grow up.

  17. Rick Dawes (nka Kemp) says:

    Born in ‘59 at Palomar Hospital when it was 3 stories. I’m related to the Bates family of Bates Brothers Nut Farm.
    My Fad worked for SDG&E out on Mission Rd. My Mom was an alumni of De Loux Beauty School on E Valley close to the Big Bear Market. She attended school with Mildred Conley, who along with her husband Curly, owned superior Ambuance and later down the road owned Conley’s Ceramics out on Mission by GolfCraft where My Uncle James Bates worked. We were friends with the Conley’s for decades.
    My mother Irene after graduating beauty collage worked at Walker Scott’s Salon when the mall first opened, the she owned her own shop which was out of our Garage. She later moved on and worked at the original Golden Door on Deer Springs Road then on to La Costa and finally retiring from a small shop 9th by the Westside market and the 9th street Diner.
    Wedekings, king James fish n chips, Kinney shoes, food Basket, Holiday Wine Celler, Escondido Datsun, Escondido Dodge next door.
    My parents were avid square dancers and we spent many evenings dancing at the Williams Square Barn in its original location on Mission and Twin Oaks. Not to mention the auditoriums of Central School and Conway.
    My Dad was in the first graduating class of EHS in its original location on the Hill. My older sister was in the first graduating class of EHS at its current location. Next sibling graduated from San Marcos High and me from Orange Glen in ‘77..
    Thanks everyone for sharing your Escondido lives and history with all of us. I’ve read everyone, trying to place names that might sound familiar to no avail.
    One last memory is of the old Shakeys Pizza Place on S 395. Sitting next to a close family friend Jeannie LaShell, as she played that old upright piano. Jeannies’ Father, Jack, taught science at Grant and her mother was an RN at Palomar along with Joanne Cook who was my Cub Scout den Mother.

  18. Dwight Arnold says:

    I remember Cruising Valley Parkway mostly in the 70’s when it was the premier avenue to show off your hot rods.. Hot Rod Magazine even did a couple of features on “Crusin’ Valley”. People came from all over Southern California to show off the cars they built and worked on. Mine was a 1971 Nova. I wish we could include pictures here as I have a pic of that car parked in the mobile home park on Valley. Great times there! I actually met my high school sweetheart on Valley and we dated for 2 and half years….

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