Inside Oceanside: Good news in development

While many locals still find it hard to believe our sweet seaside hometown is getting zapped with its fourth Walmart, we do have some good news to share on the retail front. 

The rundown and outdated Camino Town & Country shopping center on the west side of El Camino Real near state Route 78, is getting a major remodel and upgrade which starts next month.

The center will continue to host Target, Jo Ann Fabrics, a dialysis center, Del Taco, Denny’s and Discount Tire. Those businesses are staying put and will not be remodeled.

But all those unusual circular “kiosk”-style shops will be razed and replaced with an expanded parking lot. Also to be razed will be the L-shaped building to the south of Jo Ann’s which currently houses a liquor store and Maxdon’s bar and pool room. The Crossroads BBQ and music venue closed two months ago and did not reopen.

The 24 Hour Fitness Gym is relocating to the bottom floor of the building that formerly housed May Co in the Carlsbad mall. The old 24 Hour Fitness building will be torn down and a new building will go up in its place. The building that was home to Anita’s and an Asian restaurant will be remodeled. Also remodeled is the former Mann Theater building which has been dark for at least 20 years. The sloped floor will become flat. Many locals regret that the city of Oceanside or some other group didn’t take over that theater when it closed and used it as a place for public performances.

The popular Asian noodle house called the Teri Cafe and Anita’s Mexican cafe have moved just east to new sites on El Camino Real.

It all starts next month when construction begins on a new building that will be on the opposite side of the parking lot, close to El Camino Real, facing Target. Once completed, it will feature a gourmet burger joint called Habit Burger, a quick serve pizza place called Pie 360, a message parlor called Elements and a Sports Clips haircut store.

But the biggest prize in the new remodel calls for the opening of the first Winco in San Diego County. The closest Winco is in Temecula, with plans for possible others to open in San Marcos and Santee.

Winco is an employee-owned, Idaho-based, 89-store chain located in eight western states. It is a discount store that seems to be a cross between Trader Joe’s and Costco because of its eclectic selection and items that are sold in bulk. The new Winco will take up the area between Target and Jo Ann’s.

While building on the Starbuck’s/Pie 360 building will begin next month, the demolition on the kiosks and the 24 Hour Fitness side won’t begin until late next year.

Beach Shorts

This is the 50th anniversary of when myself and three other classmates from Mrs. Houtz’ first grade class from North Oceanside Elementary school appeared on national TV. The mother of classmate Susan Studdard wrote to the producers of CBS-TV’s daytime variety show Art Linkletter’s House Party, imploring them to consider hosting some kids from Oceanside to appear on the “Kids Say The Darndest Things” segment that appeared at the end of each show. They bit, and principal Joe Trotter and Mrs. Fran Houtz selected Susan, Greg Dixon, Susie Joslyn and myself. Greg, the son of Vince Dixon (“The Ford King”), got the most laughs. Something about Oceanside being famous for girls in bikinis as I recall. It aired in August 1963. It was taped at Television City. As I recall at the time Hollywood was awash with billboards for the movie “Cleopatra.”

The toys they sent us were unbelievable including the two-foot tall robot whose arms would spin around and shoot out these plastic balls. I wished the folks hadn’t thrown it away with my Aurora monster models.

Susan Studdards died a number of years ago. North Oceanside Elementary, at the very north end of Ditmar Street, was torn down sometime in the ‘60s.

Old-timers will remember that something used to happen in Oceanside on the last Friday of the month. A remnant from the cold war era, an air raid siren would sound off at 3 p.m. on the last Friday of each month, just to let people know that in case we were getting bombed, these harsh horns were there to alert us. I am told one was at the Oceanside airport, one at Third Street (Pier View Way) and Horne Street, and one in South Oceanside at Freeman and Whaley Streets. The consensus was they stopped sounding around 1965. The South “O” siren was adjacent to St. Malo Lumber, which was the site of a fire in 1961 that claimed the life of a firefighter. The lumberyard morphed into other businesses including Happy Hammer, Boise Cascade and Best Western Hardware.

The North County Times used to have newsrooms in Escondido, Vista and San Marcos and now, the U-T San Diego maintains just one newsroom in North County. It’s in the four-story office building with the blue roof just west of Hooters. I just found out that building belongs to the richest man in congress, our very own councilman Darrell Issa.

Oceanside born and raised, Ken Leighton is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at


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