Escondido, CA

Where have all the old businesses gone?

If you have ever owned and or managed a business you know that the task is not as easy as it may appear to be. Owners spend a lot more time than what hours the business is open. After last week’s column referring to Rube Nelson I began to think about the many businesses that have come and gone in my 46 plus years living in Escondido.

The first things to know are a few reasons why various businesses aren’t around any longer. Number one is undercapitalization, Another is lack of business experience or knowledge and the unwillingness to do what it takes. Then there is the owner with a lousy attitude which I have witnessed as a reason for a business to say bye-bye and the lack of customers forces closure. 

Some owners prefer to retire and close up shop rather than sell which I have also been witness to. And there are the corporate entities that either close underperforming units or the corporation goes out of business. Due to changing buying habits some businesses are not relevant any longer. Remember Radio Shack?

When I started to think about businesses no longer here I took a deep dive down memory lane and found out the list is quite extensive, a lot more than I originally thought. After I found Orange Julius in the Escondido Village Mall I knew I was in Eden. There wasn’t anything like that in New Jersey from whence I came. Mmmmm, so good. Following will be a long list of shops, stores and restaurants gone but I will not include North County Fair, ooops I mean Westfield North County, as major malls have constant turnover. I trust these names will bring back fond memories—most all locally owned.

Here we go. Alpha Beta, Food Basket, Mayfair, Westside Market. Westside Cafe, Frazier Farms, Wayside Shop, China Doll Restaurant, Chuck’s Steak House, Mr. Steak, Cask & Cleaver, Fireside, Straw Hat Pizza, Square Pan Pizza, Lampost Pizza, Father and Sons Pizza, los Amigos, Hacienda de Vega, Skipper’s Club, Longbranch Saloon, Dante’s Restaurant, Murphy’s Frozen Custard (very good), Finney Field, Red Root Field, and I will include George and Ann’s for all you EHS grads although they may have closed before I moved here. Not sure.

TG&Y, Green Music, Farrell’s, Walker Scott, Aunt Emma’s, Lodico’s, O’Bryans’, Krishna Mulvaney’s, and Dominguez family restaurants in numerous locations had the best salsa anywhere. For me, El Taquito had the best carne asada. Bittner’s Gun Shop, Foster’s Freeze, San Diego Office Supply, Cowan’s Sporting Goods, Ernie Cowan Photography, Dailey Photography, Olan Mills Photography. Ottoson’s Jewlers, Bijou Theater, Plaza Theater, Montgomery Ward’s, J.J. Newberry, W.T. Grant. Side bar here: I bought a sweater in December ‘73 at Grants and I still have it although I think it may have shrunk a tad around the middle. Curious.

Whew! Not done yet. In ‘73 Escondido population was about 34,000 and we had 40 bowling lanes between Palomar Lanes and Brunswick Bowl. Today we are almost five times larger and we have zero bowling lanes. No more Ups ‘n Downs either where the last venture there was roller derby. Builder’s Emporium, Handyman, Nurseryland, Mart’s Appliance where I took small appliances for expert repair at the Grand Avenue store then at the Valley Parkway location. He retired and realized that repairing small appliances wasn’t practical in today’s disposable society. Good thing shoe repair still makes sense, thank you Doart and thank you Coast Vacuum for both of your long time service to the community.

A big deal in its day was the Ardan Center now Palomar College Escondido campus. I have to digress again. Before Ardan, that corner was the sight of a religious tent revival meeting in either late ‘73 or ‘74. When I saw the tent in the morning I thought the circus had come to town but on my way home after work I saw inside hundreds of wooden folding chairs set up. Around the same time period there was a man riding a horse on E. Valley, full cowboy outfit, two live six-guns. He was arrested. More to come next week and  more thank you’s to some of our long standing businesses.

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

6 responses to “Where have all the old businesses gone?”

  1. John Nawn says:

    Dyde, you’re in a freakin’ time warp. All the free empty locklets at your expense. Cruise down Grand in your ’73 or ’72’ (I don’t remember), Pinto and p/u your covid hoe! And drive your misfit arsp back to memmry lane where the cops(corporate like you say), can can collect the last of your Monopoly munny you stole from your ma ma.!!

  2. Scott Faucher says:

    Here are a few others that came to mind… Pick ‘N’ Save, Longs Drugs, Montgomery Ward, Naugles, Charburger, Rube Nelson’s market, and Federated (electronics). I was born in Escondido in 1973 and lived there until I went to college in 1991. Murphy’s had the best frozen custard! My grandmother was friends with the Murphy family so when Chris opened his shop my family went there often. I also remember Ernie Cowan since my dad knew him.

  3. Al Russo says:

    Hi Ed,
    …love the article! So many wonderful memories for an older guy like me. Something I share from time-to-time, that I still have all the classic recipes in my head from my parent’s restaurant, Dante’s at 1747 S Esco blvd (thank you for the mention btw), the signature Monte Cristo sandwich, the curry tiger shrimp, the giant tostada, grilled crab salad sandwich, the cannelloni Romano with filet on the side, and more.
    Do you remember the Hamburger Tree where you could eat outside under the shade awning? Oh my gosh, those were the BEST! I always left room for one of those amazing fruit popsicles at the creamery at the back of the parking lot.
    Thanks so much for all that you do. I’m looking forward to the next installment!

    • Annette Moyle says:

      Do you recall what was in the building on Center City Pkwy that later housed Shakey’s Pizza, Cask and Cleaver, Farrell’s ice cream, etc????

  4. ray seva says:

    As a 10-12 year old, I remember my favorite place my dad took me to was Oscar’s Drive-Through (I think it was on the PCH near the airport). And in Chula Vista, there was a place called Char Burger (yup–they flame-grilled their burgers). And I developed my life-long love of ragtime music thanks to the player-piano in the lobby of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors!

  5. Scott Rogers says:

    A few more fallen businesses for the list… Baker’s Tacos, Scotty’s Donuts, Scotty’s Arcade, Love’s BBQ, PlayCo toys, Pic Nic N’ Chicken, The Game Keeper, The drive-in A&W root beer restaurant, Pizza Time Theater with those terrifying audio-animatronic figures.

    Char-burger is gone and sorely missed. Did anyone ever figure out what that sticky sauce was on their burger? Also missing Aunt Emmas where my family had breakfast every Sunday (it was the only way to get Dad to go to church!)

    And what was the name of the drive-in burger and shake place that had their menu painted on the wall of an adjacent building?

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