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Plaza Pipeups

Re: Betty Wheeler’s interview with the new owner of the Plaza, Marc Brutten, published in the February 2017 Sandpiper here

Carole Carden’s Esmeralda Bookstore and Café. Among all the
amazing authors hosted by Esmeralda were Alan Ginsburg and Anne Rice! Esmeralda’s first author reading was by
Timothy Leary.  Esmeralda closed in 2003. 
Photo Carole Carden.  Click to enlarge.

Joe Sullivan | Ocean Front
I was pleased to see the interview with Marc Brutten, the new local owner of the Del Mar Plaza, in your February issue. We all look forward to the revitalization of this property after years of neglect by absentee landlords. One clarification is called for. Mr. Brutten says he has “been told that the last market suffered when the City brought in a farmers market that cut into the Plaza market’s sales.” In fact, I believe the Del Mar Farmers’ Market opened in 1986, while the Plaza market did not open until three years later in 1989. I believe the community and the region would support both our weekly Farmers’ Market and a correctly positioned artisanal market open every day in the Plaza.

Robin Vanderlaan | 13th. Street
I am writing in response to the Sandpiper article: “Plaza Lands in Local Hands.” When asked about possible plans for a market, the new owner replied that he was interested but “…we would need the City’s assurance that it wants to see that use in the center again, as I have been told the last market suffered when the City brought in a farmers’ market that cut into Plaza market sales.”

First of all the Farmers’ Market, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, coexisted with the Plaza market for years. It wasn’t “brought in by the city,” but started by local residents as a nonprofit that donates any profits to community organizations and scholarships for the vendors’ children. This one-afternoon-a-week produce market was not responsible for the demise of the last market.

Secondly, the last market failed to provide wholesome food at reasonable prices. The neighborhood responded by rejecting a market offering only overpriced “artisanal goods.” Instead of a specialty market how about a small neighborhood Bodega, a village pantry that would complement, not compete with the Farmers’ Market. We have a weekly source for produce, eggs, fish, bread, cheese and tamales. What we need is access to a small selection of everyday groceries including dairy products, canned and bulk goods. I suggest the Plaza work with the neighborhood to identify needed and wanted items.

Sandra Dijkstra | Rimini Road
I’m sure I was not alone in applauding the news that the Del Mar Plaza is landing “in local hands”! Many of us remember back to when it was a true community center. What made it so? Easy. Carole Carden’s Esmeralda Bookstore and Café drew folks from all over North County, due to her welcoming personality, the shop’s warm atmosphere, its GREAT ARRAY OF BOOKS, and her roster of authors coming thru to talk and/or read.

In this internet age, loneliness prevails, and folks long for exactly the set of experiences Esmeralda offered. (Milane Christiansen’s BookWorks, in Flower Hill, performed a similar function.) Now that both have disappeared, as well as the much-loved downtown bookstore on Coast Hwy, Marc Brutten, hopefully, will recognize that providing the terms that will beckon a tenant like Carole Carden to set up an indie bookstore will be a NET PLUS, for his company, AND for the Del Mar Community too.

I am sure that Carole Carden, herself a longtime Del Marian, who moved her bookstore up to Solana Beach (and narrowed her focus to architecture and design books), would be happy to advise Mr. Brutten, as would I, about how to make this happen. I bet many of us in Del Mar would want to step up, as Palo Alto residents did, to keep Kepler’s. In Aspen, a similar thing happened, and we should make it happen here. Del Marians are uber-educated and uber-cultured, and would welcome an oasis that only an indie bookstore can provide.

Cheering you on, MARC!


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