La Mesa’s slogan is “the Jewel of the Hills,” but not many people realize this East County gem has homes and views rivaling those in Del Mar and La Jolla, and “at a fraction of the cost,” notes developer and restaurateur Aaron Dean on the deck of his Mt. Helix home. “And you’re only 15 minutes from the beach or downtown.”
Dean’s La Mesa roots trace back to the 1950s, but he had actually lived in Mission Hills until two years ago. That’s when the entrepreneur entertained notions of opening Depot Springs, a 30,000-square-foot brewery-restaurant-entertainment complex on land purchased in 1959 by his grandfather. “The only thing missing in La Mesa is entertainment,” explains Dean. “Lots of parents would rather take their kids to hear music than leave them with a babysitter.”
While working to open Depot Springs, Dean jump-started a restaurant renaissance in La Mesa, which ultimately turned into a mission to completely revamp the neighborhood that’s known for walkable streets and charming craftsman homes. His suburban renewal started last October, when Dean and Gy Kirk opened the doors to Sheldon’s Service Station—a patio restaurant named after the town’s first gas station, in keeping with Dean’s belief that new developments must embrace the past.
In January, Dean opened Blvd Noodles—a nod to the ever-popular Asian-style noodle bowls taking the city by storm—and this spring he plans to welcome customers to Blvd Yogurt and finally open the doors to the idea that started it all, Depot Springs. “In the two years since I’ve been back, a dozen friends of mine have moved here,” he says. “One of the things that makes La Mesa unique is the community—many neighborhoods don’t have the downtown village environment like [we have].”
Music, snow, my kids, my girlfriend, La Mesa
Bad service, crowds, clowns, rye, liars
Originally published in the March issue of Modern Luxury San Diego
Photography Courtesy Of: