Thursday, April 11, 2024

Tent City Restaurant Mission Fulfilled, New Concept Coming to Historic Space

As Tent City Restaurant at 1100 Orange Avenue closes its doors, the owners reflect on their successes and look forward to seeing the community welcome a new concept in the historic space.

Once a charming Italian restaurant called Marco’s, and later a sister restaurant to Coronado Brewing Company, Tent City Restaurant was sold in 2016 to long time Coronado local Alberto Mestre, who altered the space into a café concept. Alberto invited his dear friend Jason Anderson to join him in the venture. Jason recalls, “Our plan was always to have it be just a really fun, neighborhood spot.”

It truly became a multifamily endeavor with both Alberto’s and Jason’s high school age children, and even a few cousins and nephews, working at Tent City over the years. Jason beams, “It was always a very family oriented place. Alberto has lived on the island for 25 years, I’ve been here now for almost 14 years. The purpose of Tent City was to give back to the community.” Jason rattles off a few of the many Coronado organizations they have supported over the years – Coronado Schools Foundation, Islander Foundation, Island Ladies Club, Emerald Keepers, Coronado Rotary, to name a few.

Philanthropy in Many Forms

Not only have they been financial supporters, but they are also presently involved in many organizations. A Rotarian himself, Jason reflects, “Coronado Rotary does beach cleanup once a month and after the cleanup they would meet at Tent City; we would provide coffee and donuts.” Rotarians were not the only ones to enjoy Tent City; also a member of Island Beer Club, Jason has hosted IBC at the restaurant as well. Jason remembers, “One Fourth of July, we set up a beer garden in front of Tent City and watched the parade. It was just such a celebration of the island!” Additionally, Jason reflects, “Our passion is for the organizations in Coronado. Looking back, we were there for the first Beer by the Bay, the beginning years of the Island Ladies Club, 92118 Day!”

Emerald Green, Ocean Blue

In November 2019, the first year of local organization Emerald Keepers, Tent City was recognized as an Emerald Green, Ocean Blue restaurant by meeting specific criteria.

Jason’s wife Lindsey showcasing their Emerald Green Ocean Blue commitment.

The Future of Tent City

Jason and Alberto know what it takes for a restaurant in that space to knock it out of the park. Jason explains some of the challenges, “Tent City is a very small cafe and kitchen. We have no carry-out business. It was very difficult for us during the pandemic. What Tent City needs is someone to come in with a new concept and capital that can compete with the other restaurants that are coming to the island. The Henry is doing fantastic. Blanco will do fantastic. There are four or five other concepts that are coming to the island and it’s going to really transform the landscape. We could have done it ourselves, but both Alberto and I are focused on other things.”

Inside the restaurant space at Tent City.

Enthusiastic about the new owners, Jason said, “The new owners are a wonderful family from France. They are bringing in a new French concept and they’re going to transform the space. It’ll be an incredible addition to Coronado’s restaurant scene.”

Tent City Restaurant patio.

What’s Next for Jason and Alberto

Jason shares, “The restaurant was always way of engaging in the Coronado community. The Chamber of Commerce, Rotary philanthropic scene, and to have a place for my kids. It was never my primary focus. Alberto and I have been working full time on completely different projects. Mine is investing, and Alberto impacts the back end of restaurants all over San Diego. We never expected to dominate the restaurant industry with Tent City.

“It was always meant to be a fun adventure for the two of us. Alberto is one of my best friends in the world. The restaurant was always supposed to be fun for our families and fun for our children. We got exactly what we wanted out of it. We hosted a lot of parties, watched all the parades!”

It all comes back to the kids and the community. Jason smiles as he says, “The best part was really all the kids working there. They all got their start and their first exposure to business. Now, of course, they’ve all grown up and they have other jobs. But there were so many teenagers there. Learning how to work and provide customer service and the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant industry.

On February 5th, Tent City said goodbye with a few last coffees, omelets, and a feeling of accomplishment and pride after nearly a decade of service to the community. The new restaurant is planned to open in March. To the community, Jason concludes, “Our passion really was always for the island, and this was just a good means and a good vehicle for us expressing that. Thank you!”

Alyssa K. Burns
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: [email protected]

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