Who Needs Rodeo When We’ve Got Paseo


Last week I was stopped on Paseo Delicias by an out-of-towner enquiring about where our village grocery store was. I started to point toward the Post Office, but refrained from launching into a yawn-inducing discourse on Stumps. Swaggering about being from LA (and the OC), he gasped at my admission of shopping at Vons. He rhetorically asked further, “This is a beautiful, upscale village, don’t you have an Erewhon? I guess I’m not in the know, but was quickly dragged from the primordial muck of my unsophistication and told this was some fancy Beverly Hills grocer catering to raw, vegan, keto, kosher and a predictable La La Land laundry list of additional alternative diets. He seemed to nod his head in dismay and walked off toward local favorite, Thyme in the Ranch, as I recommended. 

But while most residents are understandably not into Paseo becoming Rodeo, our little town has been authentically upping its game and a lot is coming online to revitalize our village.

The Ranch has been wringing its hands for a small, high-end, bodega for decades. And we are on our way to getting one called MRKT SPACE, which will occupy the Francisco Building, where the old Coldwell Banker office was on the corner of Paseo Delicias and Via de Santa Fe. Some may be familiar with the brand, whose US flagship is smack dab on Highway 101 in Encinitas (straight across from the gastronomic mastery being dished up at Rancho-resident-owned Valentina). They also recently celebrated the grand opening of their second American store in La Jolla Shores. 

Epicurean Utopia 

The brainchild of an Aussie and Italian businessman duo, the super-hip black, white and bare-wood concept is a contemporary one-stop-shop cafe, market, and bar. This epicurean utopia allows patrons to sit, chat, knock back a tipple or two, and indulge in a smorgasbord of gourmet offerings to enjoy in-house or at-home — from freshly baked croissants and artisanal coffees to French bubbles, charcuterie boards, shelf-loads of chicly packaged nibbles and wine finery, and woven baskets of organic fruit and veg. It’s clearly a lounge-all-day, don’t-mind-if-you-do, type deal. 

Tapping into our immediate-gratification app obsession, they’ve got one too, so you can careen past in your Tesla for a pick up and blast off in the blink of a Tweet. Signing up for MRKT SPACE’s Social Club membership will turbocharge your experience, enabling VIP access to exclusive events, free swag, and smokin’ in-store deals. All I wanted was to be able to grab a bag of ice, firewood and a gallon of milk in sweats and no makeup, but this is so much extra, and I’m ready for my closeup at MRKT SPACE’s sleek counter tops to behold my steaming-hot, heart-foam latte, or treat myself to a self-poured, locally-sourced Mediterranean-style olive oil. 

But while I wish this was a beam-me-up sort of situation, especially since the RSFA has already approved the shop’s concept, we’ll all have to wait as it goes through the SD County permitting process. Bureaucracies have never been exemplars of speed and efficiency, so when Covid was thrown into the mix, it was the mother of all monkey wrenches. I’ve also been told the City of San Diego has quite the naughty habit of poaching County employees, which has caused staff shortages, and therefore delayed project approvals too. 

I spoke with a MRKT SPACE store manager this week and they said they are just as ready as we are to get things up and running, but occupying historic buildings has its own added challenges, along with the scourge that is village parking and how to find an elixir or even temporary remedy for that issue — we really do feel their pain. 

Humble Pie 

The silver lining is that once this is signed off by County officials, the project goes straight to the Art Jury for approval. Such a modern convenience would not only be a cultural step up from being a bodega-less backwater, it would make those foodie LA types hyping their Erewhons enjoy our very own, equally elite organic market, with a heaping side of humble pie. 

Good things are coming to us who have to wait, and sometimes it feels like we have become near-virtuous in our patience for village revitalization. But even though I recently bemoaned the state of the Inn, when it is indeed ready for the big league and makes its updated debut next year, I’m sure it will encapsulate the debonair hotelier and owner’s grand vision in spectacular fashion. We really can’t wait to celebrate and be bedazzled by our village’s polished crown jewel.

New ownership of village real estate abounds, and it’s the start-me-up this town needs, especially since some of it has been owned by old trusts or the like that don’t have much connection to the community, and may not care if a building is empty or not. 

Long-time Ranch resident, former tennis pro and developer Bruce Kleege made a historic buy back in 2015 with his purchase of the Garden Club, a decision motivated by not only its investment potential but what Mr. Kleege called his “social conscience” to update and preserve such an integral asset for the community. He has continued to pick up large swathes of San Diego commercial real estate through his company Kleege Enterprises, making him quite the local mogul. 

Local RSF Mogul 

In 2017 the company acquired almost an entire prime block of downtown Coronado for $22 million, which included 20 business locations. In a phone interview at the time, he said his goal was “to clean the block up, refresh it, and give it some life,” working as much as possible with businesses owned and run by island residents. One of those locals is an owner of Buona Forchetta, the wildly popular Italian eatery popping up in locations across the county, which plans on planting another flag in Coronado with Mr. Kleege’s blessing.

I don’t know what Mr. Kleege’s plans are for a recent $19.5 million commercial purchase in Del Mar, but one can only imagine the possibilities for the additional square footage Mr. Kleege and a partner have supposedly splashed out for in the Ranch, which I’m told spans the Union Bank and Wells Fargo buildings on Paseo Delicias and the modern Spanish colonial property once occupied by Banc of California on the corner of El Tordo and Avenida de Acacias. I reached out to Mr. Kleege for comment, but haven’t heard back yet. In the meantime, a girl can dream, so if Coronado is anything to go by, I’m hoping Mr. Kleege can continue to act as a steward of this town and give the village a big shot of vibe. And if that means outfits like Buona Forchetta are moving in, let the pizza baking begin. 

Feminine Touch 

And for a feminine touch on the Rancho commercial (and residential) property front, there’s Delorine Jackson, who owns the El Portillo building, with its name charmingly inscribed in cursive across the arched entrance on Paseo Delicias. Ms. Jackson (through her company Nature’s Fusion Glow, LLC) bought the property last year from the Ranch’s multi-generational Clotfelter real estate family, who had owned the property since the 1940’s and whose office still resides in the building. 

Ms. Jackson is a self-described “entrepreneur, fashion curator, luxury real-estate specialist, and restauranteur,” who co-owns one of the businesses on site, curated fashion and lifestyle shop D&K Rancho Santa Fe, with her business partner who shares almost the exact same savvy credentials, Khaki Wennstrom (Delorine’s the D, Khaki’s the K). 

I regret never having ventured past that archway, as beyond it exists a lovely private little courtyard, with a coterie of boutique businesses. I only discovered this magical space last week by luck of an invite from a dear friend who was attending a special event at D&K, which was hosting two female business founders for a “Fashion Q&A” and “Sip & Shop.” 

Sip & Shop Pop-Up

The shop’s staple collection of net-a-porter attire ranges from modern luxury wear designed by Jonathan Simkhai to vintage Chanel shoes, all meticulously displayed to allow the eye to imbibe every bespoke effect and curios.  There are all sorts of high-end styles in between to suit the sportier, or less casual, soignee type. Everyday and more ornate jewelry are carefully poised on velvet trays and petite stands, or seductively strewn across the latest coffee table tome resting beside a vase of delicate flowers. 

With a lit candle or two perfuming the soft surroundings and light music wafting about, the D&K set was all rather dreamy. But it got better. After being greeted with iced, butterfly-shaped confections and bubbles, we were seated in the courtyard amongst several little local fashionistas, whom I assume were accompanied by the well-coiffed moms in attendance, to hear from the two guests of honor Meredith Melling, co-founder of La Ligne, and Jane Winchester Paradis, founder of Jane Win Jewelry. 

Both women, like the D&K owners themselves, were equally impressive. Ms. Melling regaled us with personal anecdotes about earning her fashion stripes as an editor at diva Anna Wintour’s super cut-throat Vogue, before she and a colleague, along with rag & bone’s former head of business development, struck out on their own to establish La Ligne, a collection of everyday essentials and statement pieces based on one iconic graphic: the stripe (la ligne in French). 

Community Meets Commerce 

Ms. Winchester was just as infectious, detailing how her love for carrying inexpensive L.L. Bean canvas totes jumpstarted her side-hustle at the ever-iconic Barneys New York, where she was asked to stitch up something similar, but sell for triple the price. She ended up marketing and designing for the preppy American entrepreneur and socialite, Lily Pulitzer, whom she knew on a first-name basis. 

We all have those curl-up-in-the-bathroom stall, live-and-learn moments, especially in the wide-eyed stages of our professional lives, and Ms. Winchester did not disappoint, making the crowd burst into giggles as she divulged a particularly humiliating memory, where she marched into a marketing meeting, stood confidently at the head of the conference table for her big career moment, and made the cringey call that, “You know this World Wide Web thing? It is going NOWHERE!” She miraculously kept her job, but ended up parting ways on good terms to launch her own company at the age of 45 to design “jewelry with meaning.” Ms. Winchester describes a piece of her jewelry as a “talisman”  for milestone moments, and a “reminder to focus on all you hope to achieve in life.” 

The elegant evening wrapped up with a pop-up shop of hand-picked items from both La Ligne and Jane Win Jewelry for party-goers to peruse and purchase. What a smart way to so effortlessly bring community and commerce together. I’ve been told D&K will be hosting many more events like this in the future, and since they switch up their inventory on the regular, be sure to stop by during your routine village stroll.

As I said before, who needs Rodeo when we’ve got all the posh trappings and potential right here. If we continue to attract businesspeople with a vision and the wherewithal to see it through, the Ranch is perfectly set for its own primetime.