Opinion Sept 27


Vagabond put South Park on the map

By Amy Wallen, South Park resident

Ten years ago this past August, I moved to South Park from Point Loma. My realtor kept bringing me over to the neighborhood and saying, “You’ll love it. You’ll see.” I had lived in North Park 25 years before, and this neck of Downtown just was not ventured into.

When I did fall in love with a 1928 house on a canyon, with a rental cottage in the back, I had already started to see the quaint benefits of living in this neighborhood. When I bought my house, a corner store had painted across their big windows, “New Home of Rebecca’s Coffee Shop Coming Soon.” That sign stayed up for at least three years.

The local establishments were Big Kitchen for breakfast and lunch, and Mazara’s for pizza to pick up, because no one ate in the restaurant. Snippy’s bar stayed open later than any place else and the last to leave would spill into Sombrero taco shop across the street. I was thrilled when South Park Grill opened and I could walk the few blocks to dinner, like a true urban dweller.

When I told friends I’d bought a house in South Park they would say, “South Park? Where’s that?” No one had heard of it. I joked and said, “South Park; it’s east of the Park, that’s why they call it South Park.”

Most folks would say, “You mean Golden Hill?” And I’d have to explain. Everyone got lost coming to my house, including me. With all the canyons and parks and golf courses, directions are never a direct shot: a hidden enclave.

Then one day, a storefront on the corner of Juniper and 30th streets, just before it turned into Fern Street, was renovated. Then a sign posted out front read “Vagabond.” International cuisine was advertised. Word spread that the owner was French or Belgian or Moroccan, depending on who was telling the story and whether it was the moules frites, or the tagine, or the coq au vin that were touted.

From the day Vagabond opened its doors and began serving food, the wait was two hours long. That lengthy wait continued for three years – the new place thrived. I live three blocks away and it took me at least six months to get in the first time.

The food was divine, the wine list spectacular and the environment warm and eclectic in its worldly decor. Everyone in San Diego County was talking about the new restaurant in South Park, opened by Jerome Gombert.

Vagabond brought people from the restaurant meccas of North County to try our little village out. Gradually more restaurants and shops began opening up. Snippy’s became The Station where families and dogs had a place to enjoy a good burger. Sombrero even got a facelift.

South Park Grill had some competition and had to up the ante on their menu and decor. 30th Street warehouses got revamped, and hairdressers and nail salons and The Rose Wine Pub came in. Parking became a problem, and IGA got smart and repaved their parking lot. Other restaurants have come and gone; some are here to stay.

About a year ago, I sat next to someone having a burger at The Station and she told me she was visiting from New York City: “I heard about this neighborhood, and they said it’s like Soho.”

Another day while buying cat food at South Bark, I overheard a group of young hipsters say to the cashier, “We’re from New York, but we’d heard about this place that does dog baths. We just had to see it.”

And one night, sipping a glass of wine at The Rose, a group of tourists came in wearing name tags. South Park was a stop on their bus tour of the city.

But this past summer the sign went up that Vagabond is changing owners. It’s going to be a Belgian Beer and Bread Co. restaurant. I’m looking forward to finding out what they offer, but unless the person who greets me at the door has a French accent, shakes his head and berates me for not making a reservation, it won’t hold the same place in my heart that Vagabond does.

Another restaurant may be just as tasty, and just as wonderful of an atmosphere, but it will always be Vagabond who put South Park on the map.

I asked Jerome what he was going to do next, and he replied in that great accent, “I’m going to run naked on the beach.” You deserve a break, Jerome.

We still have delicious and adorable Madeleine’s, another of Jerome’s brainchildren at the corner of 30th and Juniper. Until your next endeavor, thank you, Jerome and all the staff, for the delectable years in our little village.



Rules of War?

How angry Britain’s leaders are,

And those of France and the USA.

An upstart country’s breaking the rules!

“We signed the accord,” each spokesperson chides.

“We agreed to eschew such weapons of war.


“But our sanctions financial have been ignored.

They’re calling a session at the UN,

As we weigh our options,

All on the table,

Including military strikes.


“Of course, we may kill a civilian or two,

Part of a village or some city blocks.

But it cannot be helped.


“We must show them that they are wrong,

And that they have brought this upon themselves.

We believe in treatment humane.

Our weapons of war are much more polite.

Why can’t they take lives lawfully,

As other enlightened nations do?”

—Terra Lepore of Normal Heights, via email


Sequestration, two sides

Please stop sequestration. This is not the answer. It is destroying our economy and our defense department [see “Sequestration, furloughs & Head Start cuts,” Vol. 5, Issue 19].

This may have seemed like a good idea at one time but the unintended consequences are too dire.

Kathy Prout, via


I was laid off in 2009, unemployed for approximately two years and spent the next three years working part time with no benefits at all. So, as sad as I find the sequestration, everyone that you listed is still doing better than I am [see “Sequestration, furloughs & Head Start cuts,” Vol. 5, Issue 19].

Our number one priority as a country should be to stabilize the economy so companies will be more inclined to invest money. This means more production and putting people back to work to help create that production.

I know a few people that have millions of dollars in cash but are afraid to invest it because they are afraid that the economy is going to slide backwards again.

We’re finally starting to move in the right direction. If we revert to the programs that got us in this problem in the first place then there is a danger that this recovery will reverse itself.

With more private sector jobs comes more income tax that the government can use to pay for programs for people that need help. Of course, more private sector jobs also means less people that need help.

If a couple of more years of sequestration will help, then let’s keep it going.

Bob Crider, via


What’s the holdup?

Clearly, Uptown Planners is trying to stall and eventually kill any bicycle infrastructure in Uptown [see “Bike infrastructure on hold?,” Vol. 5, Issue 19].

BikeSD is right; they are out of touch.

Jeff, via


I’d really like to hear Mat Wahlstrom explain the difference between “essential traffic,” “incidental traffic” and “regular traffic.” He just should have said, “I don’t like bikes,” and saved us his pseudo-technical jargon [see “Bike infrastructure on hold?” Vol. 5, Issue 19].

Rick, via



web sb092113dBP

Leave a Comment