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More forgotten businesses from yesteryear


About a week ago, while at the gym a woman approached me and mentioned how she enjoyed my columns—especially recent memory lane, since 1973, comments. Then I waited for the “but.” Aaaand here it comes. “But you forgot Laura’s and the Carousel downtown.” We then spent a few minutes discussing other departed businesses. How could I have omitted Laura Scardino’s restaurant. Shame on me as it was a favorite dining spot. So today, I decided to continue the list and believe me the number of gone bye-bye businesses is huge.

Let’s begin with the owners who were responsible for creating the Auto Park—which has been Escondido’s largest sales tax producer since inception. Jack Powell Chrysler, Murray Buick, Young Cadillac, Dan Weseloh who owned Quality Chevrolet and Heller Ford. Other car dealers who stayed at their locations were Reynolds Toyota, the first Toyota dealer in San Diego County, Palomar Motors on Valley Parkway, Witt Lincoln Mercury on Escondido Blvd. By the way, if you are looking to buying a car Escondido has probably the most diverse selection of vehicles anywhere in the county. New or pre-owned, you know, the ones we used to call “used.”

Gone are Ma Cuch’s, Talone’s, Palomar Savings Bank, Love’s Wood Pit BBQ, Milan’s Steak House (bet you don’t remember that one) Big ‘n Tall Men’s Store, H. Johnston’s Furniture, McMahon’s Furniture, The Mercantile, Sir George’s and Holland House Cafeteria, How about the Royal Inn with the signature outside elevator—then later the Ramada Inn? 

I have to mention Hart Realty, located just North of the Ramada Inn, which had a forty foot pole sign advertising “over 500 listings.” Of course, he took license with that statement as he was referring to ALL the homes available for sale in Escondido. I thought that was some good marketing on his part as he didn’t say they were all his—even though some took issue with that. Also gone is Hidden Valley Moving and Storage a company I have referred many clients to due to the integrity and professionalism of the owner. Oh, and Fill ‘em Fast Gas.

Thank yous go out to locally owned businesses who have survived over 40 years and helped to maintain our small town feel. I have to mention that I have referred to Escondido numerous times as a big small town. Shuster Oil, who has operated his business on a month to month lease with the North County Transit District. Estrada’s Mexican Restaurant was here decades, then gone a few months then open again. Vitagold, the only chicken feed supplier in SoCal. There used to be more but then there were a lot more egg ranches—especially the largest in the country with Prohoroff’s where CSU San Marcos sits today. Escondido had three smaller operations, all gone now.

Then we have Latino’s Market in the Mercado Business District and the Wig Shop is still in the smallest shop downtown—at most 15 feet wide. Holiday Wine Cellar with their iconic sign and speaking of iconic signs kudos to the Joor Muffler Man. Gilletes’s then George’s now Charlie’s Restaurant, Frontier Fence, McDonald’s at Valley and Ash, Al’s Towing, Masson Engineering. Citricado Dental Group and Hidden Valley Orthodontics are close. Sears and JC Penney have moved from downtown to the Mall. As a longtime resident of Escondido I appreciate all the businesses which were here when I arrived and have since gone and also very much appreciate those who are still here for us.

Now for a little something off the wall. I’m sure we have all seen the personalized license plates. One that caught my eye is ‘WHTAJRK.’ Did the owner buy that for themselves or was it a gift. I thought the drooping pants was a past fashion? statement but I have seen lately some guys with the waist on their butts and they walk funny to keep them from falling down to their ankles. And the cell phone phenomenon. I see many groups of students walking together and each with their head down in their phone not communicating with each other. I don’t get it. Does that make me old fashioned? I’m OK with that. Oh, decal on an SUV, “I used to be cool.” Too funny.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

One response to “More forgotten businesses from yesteryear”

  1. TODD JOHNSTON says:

    Three more that come to my mind are Walker Scotts, Gemco & Cowan’s sporting Goods.
    Good article. Nice to walk back through the memories. Thanks

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