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Thursday, April 2, 2020

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International Women’s Day – Celebrating Coronado Women Run Businesses

International Women’s Day (IWD) is March 8th and its goal is to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” In the spirit of the day, let’s take a look at a few of Coronado’s women-owned / women-run businesses.

Barbara Massey and Tartine

Barbara Massey, Jenny Freel and Mary Ann Berta opened Tartine on October 5, 2001. Tartine is an undisputed success now, but not everyone was optimistic. Barbara shares, “In the beginning there was a bit of whispering that three women couldn’t make a successor of Tartine. We opened the cafe after the closing of Kensington Coffee Company, a very longstanding and popular coffee house in Coronado. I think mostly people were afraid of change and a different concept.”


In addition to opening the business, Barbara also faced hurdles in the male dominated chef field. She explains, “As a woman chef it’s sometimes a challenge to prove myself. In the beginning, especially when I was younger, it was hard to be taken seriously. The assumption was often that I was an employee. It’s been nearly 20 years, and the general public is no longer so surprised by female bosses.”

Barbara Massey in the center with Tartine team. Photo Courtesy of Tartine Facebook page.

When asked what advice she has for other women looking to start their own business or run a business, she begins, “How do I say something that’s not cliche or overused?” Then adding, “There really shouldn’t be any barrier for a woman doing whatever she chooses.  We are fortunate to live in a time and place where many of those barriers have been removed. Believing in oneself is most important. And do the work! More than anything, being a success is working hard, and not giving up.”

As a local favorite spot, Barbara shares, “The concept behind Tartine has always been a gathering place. A place where friends and family can come together over a cup of coffee, a meal, a glass of wine, a pastry. ‘Cafe Culture.’  We’re a part of so many people’s lives and routines. We love seeing our regulars, many of whom come in daily or multiple times in a week.”

A perk of being established for so long, is to witness changes. Barbara shares, “We’ve seen countless children grow up and head off to college. It warms my heart to see the same group of gentlemen that have been meeting early every Saturday morning since we opened.” Beyond the customers is the cultural work environment they have created at Tartine. Barbara explains, “Our staff is also a huge reward for us.  It is so fulfilling to provide a livelihood for so many people and their families. Tartine really is a family in itself. Perhaps the three of us are the matriarchs, not a bad position.”

Tartine is location at 1106 1st Street

Jody Esquer and Night & Day Cafe

The Cafe opened on Orange Ave in 1927 as the D and D Cafe, located about two doors down from its current location. In 1954, Paul Zeller bought the Cafe, moved it to its current location 847 Orange Ave. and renamed it The Night and Day Cafe. A few different owners had it until 1996, when Mario Esquer took over the cafe, and it has remained in the Esquer family ever since. After Mario passed away in 1999, his brother Hector took over the operations of the cafe, along with his mother, Doerte.

Present day, Doerte (Mario, Lina and Hector’s mom) who is 85, collects, records and does the bank deposits for Night and Day, without fail, every day, and Jody (Hector’s wife) and Allie (Hector and Jody’s daughter) tag team the cafe’s daily operations. Jody shares, “It has been really great having Allie as my ‘right-hand gal.’ Allie has a great work ethic and she balances out my crazy ideas. Allie manages the schedules, updates our menu/POS system, along with cashiering and serving, and she is presently taking a business course as well.”

Allie and Jody take Night and Day to be Emerald Green

Jody’s responsibilities are a bit less defined, “I’m great with putting out fires and basically being the ‘go-for-it-girl,’ meaning doing whatever the staff needs on the back-end to keep the cafe humming and the patrons well fed and happy” she laughs. “This could be anything from food shlepper, appliance/equipment ‘whisperer,’ ‘handyman wrangler,’ basically anything that needs to happen in order to keep the cafe’s ‘door swinging open.'”

As a woman in this business Jody acknowledges that there are some hurdles – particularly dealing with the unexpected mishaps, big ticket expenditures and machismo vendors. She also recognizes that this is not a glamorous profession, “you are constantly having to laugh at yourself and not be afraid to get yourself dirty, so to speak. Case in point, when we had to remove the huge iconic vintage Wolf stove/griddle that was the ‘life’ of the cafe, the counter was built around that huge stove, so in the dead of night, five of us somehow got it over the counter and dragged it onto the sidewalk and into a truck, so the new equipment could be installed first thing the next morning. I just kept thinking, does this happen to other gals or just me? I just had to have the mindset that, ‘we are women, hear us roar!'”

For other women looking to break into the business world, Jody shares, “Know that whatever can go wrong, most likely will go wrong and usually at the worst time. So try to always have a back up plan and if you don’t, have a good sense of humor. Never be afraid to laugh at your mistakes. Create lists of checks and balances. Ask lots of questions. Take workshops. Setting up a pretty environment won’t guarantee success but a lot of ‘elbow grease,’ a great staff and a consistent plan of attack will!”

Jody is most proud of how long the cafe has been in business. “We have kept it alive since ’96. We transformed it into half diner, half Mexican food. It is the oldest cafe/hole-in-the-wall on Orange Avenue, appealing to the old school locals as well as tourists, far and wide.”

Night and Day is located at 847 Orange Ave.

Ashley Linder and CrossFit Proteus Gym (and Battle Axe Coronado!)

CrossFit Proteus Gym was opened by Brian Tucker in 2014 as Proteus Fitness & Training. In the fall of 2018, Ashley had the opportunity to join Brian and manage the gym. When asked what changes she’s made, Ashley laughs, “I redid everything. I started marketing the business and rebranded.” Ashley explains that they are CrossFit affiliates but they have creative liberties.

Ashley (bottom right) and CrossFit Proteus members complete 10 mile Tough Mudder

Ashley felt the challenges not only as a woman, but as a younger woman. “People don’t always take you seriously, especially looking young. But actions speak louder than words. Stick to knowing what you are capable of.” When time came to open Battle Axe Coronado, Ashley says her experience was a bit different. “It’s a new concept. I was in the gym world for a long time.” Ashley elaborates that CrossFit Proteus is also geared toward memberships, Battle Axe is service/experience based. Running two very different businesses has its challenges but Ashley glows as she discusses both, looking forward to the growth and community.

Advice to give other women is a struggle; Ashley shares, “No advice to give. People can take or give advice. Having a little fear is healthy. Other people’s opinions are just that.” Ashley also adds, “I don’t have one person I look up to or take advice from. I take a little from many people, men or women. Brian has been a great help, but I can also stand my ground.”

CrossFit Proteus Gym is located at 841 1/2 Orange Ave.

International Women’s Day Supporters with Savings

Island businesses that have generously offered a discount on March 8, 2020 to honor the women of Coronado include:

  • Natalie Falletta Skin Care on First Avenue is offering 20% off Facials and Peels and $10 off any waxing of $45 or more, booked on or before 3/8/20
  • Coronado Glow Luxury Spray Tan Boutique Studio is offering $25 in-studio Spray Tans for tans (excluding fitness tans) booked in advance for 3/8, space is limited, 1309 Ynez Place (Valid for 3/8/20 appts only)
  • Coronado Colon Hydrotherapy is offering half price foot detoxes and colonics. 1309 Ynez Place, 619-806-4445
  • Blue Lotus Healing Arts is offering $25, 20 minute mini sessions from 12-4 PM. Mini sessions can be either sound massage where Lulu plays beautiful singing bowls on the body for deep deep relaxation or Eden energy medicine with a hands-on energy balancing. 1309 Ynez Place, 415-887-8653
  • BE Polished Nail Salon is offering 10% off any service at 131 Orange Ave, call to make your appointment in advance.
  • Fair Trade Decor is offering 10% off purchases made on 3/8/20
  • New Chainz is offering 15% off bike repair service booked on 3/8/20.
  • Nado Gelato:  15% off gelato or coffee drink on 3/8/20.
  • Battle Axe Coronado:  15% off axe throwing session on 3/8/20.

**Must mention International Women’s Day to take advantage of all discounts above.



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Alyssa K. Burns
Alyssa is a graduate of Coronado High School and was in the founding broadcast journalism class at CHS. She earned her BA in Communication from CSU East Bay and completed her MBA from CSU San Marcos. Her passion for writing and interest in the behind the scenes of business, leads her to write frequently about Coronado businesses. You can find Alyssa walking around the ferry landing with her husband and shih-tzu terrier or enjoying a cup of coffee at one of Coronado's favorite cafes.Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to:


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