If there is a portion of Coast Highway 101 that still represents old-school Leucadia it just might be the stretch between Marcheta and El Portal where Studio 101 and Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association reside side-by-side.
Priscilla Lopez has had her charming salon in the same location for 27 years and is now working with her daughter Lela Hutchings. I’ve known Priscilla forever and besides being a great stylist, her Studio 101 is like stepping into a mellow, no-stress coastal zone, free of any pretensions and such that can go with some salons.
Our conversations range from restaurants to local gossip and the ever-changing Highway 101. Given her opinions on food and restaurants, I thought it would be fun to include her and Lela in one of my takeover columns.
Kellie Shay Hinze is the executive director at Leucadia 101 right next door and it made perfect sense to bring her into the mix. I met Kellie when she was a volunteer and Carris Rhodes was at the helm of the organization. She has taken over the role nicely and definitely has a pulse on the ever-changing and issue-laden stretch of paradise that is experiencing big changes while attempting to hold on to its roots. Having grown up in Leucadia, yet aware that some change is inevitable and for the better, I can’t think of a better person for the job than Kellie.
With that, I’ll let Kellie get things started by sharing some of her story and some local favorites. She actually went to Paul Ecke Central with Lela, where they had many adventures together.
“After school we would go poking around the neighborhood for loose change to buy tortillas and guacamole from Juanita’s and then hustle down to Coast Highway Liquor for candy. We did all that before our parents could get home from work to prevent it. It makes me so happy that these businesses are still thriving. After 10 years away, I’m so happy to be back in Leucadia, working next door to Lela and Priscilla and getting visits from Daisy (Priscilla’s dog and the official mascot of Studio 101).
“There is so much treasure from this town’s fabled past but I’m pretty enthusiastic about the direction Leucadia is heading with amazing world-class restaurants like Fish 101, Umi and Birdseye. I’m proud to take visitors to enjoy fresh oysters, spicy mushroom salad and Kitsune — so much of it is locally sourced fare. MotoDeli was a fast favorite and really a spot that caters to all appetites and ages.” I could not put it better myself Kellie.
Our early conversation about this column inevitably shifted to some of the local changes that Kellie really has a pulse on and wanted to share her thoughts about.
“Next year construction begins for the long-awaited El Portal underpass which will make it so much easier to get to and from the Leucadia Farmer’s Market, Pannikin, Cap’n Keno’s and the beach,” she said. “Locals know the best way to get around this community is on foot or by bike and I can’t wait until we can do that safely. That coupled with the city’s project to reforest Leucadia’s historic tree canopy and provide better circulation for cars, bikes and pedestrians will ensure this community stays as close to paradise as possible.”
All that definitely makes sense Kellie, lets hope folks come together to reach the compromises needed to make it happen.
Priscilla Lopez is up next and I’m stoked to be able to provide her this forum as she has given me a cool little hangout oasis and great haircuts for about 20 years now.
“I love where I live and I love what I do,” she said. “This little studio has been a hair salon for over 40 years and my ex-husband and I opened it in 1991 and called it Victors Killer cuts. All my kids had their first haircuts there including my daughter’s first perm. I’ve witnessed our little community grow, with so many amazing new places to eat, drink and gather with family and friends. We are creatures of habit and in my case I tend to frequent my favorite which is La Especial Norte. The shrimp plate with garlic, rice, beans and tortillas is mouth-watering.
“And of course the Pannikin on a cold day, I love their Mexican hot chocolate with a corn muffin. It warms me up and puts a smile on my face. Leucadia Pizzeria holds a special place in my heart mainly because it was the first place my daughter worked when she turned 16.
“We would often gather there as a family for dinners and I would frequent it after work to visit my daughter and for a glass of wine, the Greek salad and pizza. They have recently redone their bar area and it’s fantastic. Change is constant and a little cosmetic goes along way.”
So perfectly put Priscilla … love your way with words! Let’s get soup at Norte soon when the weather cools down!
As I mentioned, Priscilla works with her daughter Lela now and it’s always a treat when she is at Studio 101. Having grown up here, she definitely has thoughts on the local food scene.
“Growing up in Leucadia it offered the best of sun, beaches and good eats,” Lela said. “Morning bike rides down Neptune would drop us at Leucadia donut shop where the owner would be waiting with a glazed donut and a smile. Long summer days spent at Moonlight Beach would lead us sandy, and sunburned straight to Raul’s Taco Shop where rolled tacos with guacamole and fresh handmade salsa was always waiting.
“Now with children of my own I get nostalgic visiting these places with my boys. Spending most of my childhood in a salon chair challenging my mother to give me the latest hairstyle trend. I am so honored to now be working alongside her at Studio 101 Salon serving the community we love. The best part is sharing the neighborhood with people like Kellie at Leucadia 101 Mainstreet; she loves our hometown and strives daily to make it a better place.
“With all the amazing restaurants along the 101 there is an endless variety of places to satisfy your culinary desires,” she added. “I find comfort in some of the original 101 favorites. Encinitas Cafe is our family Thanksgiving breakfast tradition. You can get a great cup of coffee and delicious oatmeal pancakes. Le Papagayo is another gem; their Thai Peanut Sauce Mussels, homemade Sangria and live music make for a perfect Leucadia night out! In this funky beach town there are countless ways to keep your days filled with fun, and your belly filled with great food.”
It’s so nice to hear stories like this from folks that grew up locally with their pulse on the past yet open to change that does not detract from the original charm of the area. Thanks Priscilla, Lela and Kellie for your contributions!
Learn more about Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association at www.leucadia101.com and find Studio 101 at 386 N. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, call (760)420-8544 or find them on Facebook.
Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.lick-the-plate.com