Upper Girard Avenue features Ferrari of San Diego, flanked by a number of up-and-coming businsses.
Editor's note: This is the first in a series of pieces on a La Jolla whose current commercial face seems to change by the day. We're currently dividing the Village into several portions and will spotlight each in our hardcopy edition and online in the coming weeks. For the latest on Village life, please visit sdnews.com.
Upper Girard in La Jolla, between Pearl and Genter streets, is changing its complexion. Whether you want to buy a Maserati, a sandwich, camera gear or a perm, work out, take an art class or music lessons or go on a Segway excursion, you can do it all on Upper Girard.
“This block is totally a true artist’s block,” said Leon Chow of C&H Photo, which moved to 7442 Girard Ave. from Fay Avenue a couple years ago. “On the other side of the street is D.G. Wills book store, Harvard Cookin Girl and La Jolla Music. On our side is My Art Shed and us.”
Tapenade French restaurant is remodeling a retail space on north Upper Girard to relocate to from its present site at 7612 Fay Ave. For Emily Latham and owner Porschia Talbot of My Art Shed at 7426 Girard, the gallery is ideally situated.
“It’s a great spot because the schools (La Jolla Elementary and The Gillispie School) are so close,” said Latham, noting their stock in trade is teaching art classes and summer camps as well as hosting special events like birthday parties. “We’re also a functional gallery so people put up their work to sell as well.”
The north side of Upper Girard is anchored on the corner by Maserati of San Diego at 7477 Girard, kitty-corner to San Diego Ferrari at 7514 Girard, with which it is aligned.
“We’ve been here about three years now,” said Maserati sales associate Joseph Vadala. “We get customers from all over the country, especially people who don’t have Maserati dealers in their areas.
“This is a great part of town to be in because of our clientele base, people with income who want some thing (vehicle) that’s a little extra, maybe something a little less com mon,” said Vadala.
A couple doors down from Maserati is Pro Rituals Salon, at 7443 Girard, where hairstylists Terrence Michael Renk and Carrie Brown ply their trade. Renk previously was the hairdresser for daytime TV soap “All My Children.”
“It’s a great place to be,” said Brown of the block. “Everyone here is really loyal. Once you make a relationship with people, they keep coming back. We’re getting lots of referrals.”
Elizabeth Allen Atelier said her eponymous bedding business is departing soon after three years, noting “the block just doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic.”
The Village Greens Healthy Food Kitchen recently opened at 7441 Girard, Suite A, co-owned by restaurateurs Nanci Kirk and April Richardson-Caulk.
“Upper Girard is quickly morphing into what La Jolla was when I was a kid, which is less commercial and more unique,” said Richarson-Caulk.
“About 40 percent of our business is takeouts, and I had no idea people would want home-cooked meals they can take home so much,” said Kirk.
Jaw Wang, of La Jolla Music, at 7423 Girard, noted the business has been in La Jolla since 1962 and on Girard since the '70s.
“We sell instruments like guitars,” said Wang, “but our main focus is lessons, which we offer with more than 30 teachers who use our rooms.” Wang added that local students in bands and orchestras are some of the store’s clientele. “We
have a lot of schools around here,” Wang added, “so it’s very convenient for students to come in after school and take lessons.”
There are more businesses than you think on the south side of Upper Girard, inhabiting all the little nooks and crannies in between all the deep retail spaces on the block. They include La Taverna at 7420 Girard, Armone’s Core Connection
at 7438 Girard, Design Studio West — San Diego Kitchen and Bath at 7424 Girard, Lola La Jolla at 7444 Girard, Aly’s Pilates at 7448 Girard, Blush at 7450 Girard, Gracie and Company at 7458 Girard, The Faded Awning Coastal Interiors
at 7464 Girard, Ogden’s One Hour Cleaners at 945 Pearl St., The La Jolla Segway Tour, The Futon Shop at 7470 Girard, Girard's Nail & Skin Care
at 7454 Girard, Bellemani Salon at 7462 Girard, John’s Tailor Shop at 7466 Girard and Pannikin Coffee & Tea at 7667 Girard, to name a few.
Chow noted the economy is improving, pointing out that “storefronts aren’t closing, they’re finding other spaces to land in.” He noted that, besides becoming increasingly diverse, Upper Girard also has significant parking in front and back of many businesses.
Chow thinks Upper Girard has a bright future.
“Everything needs to just evolve a little bit,” he said. “If we (merchants) all could just get through to the other side: Everybody here is worth it."