Her life would make for a riveting movie plot - Ingrid Croce has been a San Diego resident for more than 30 years, but her storied past has taken her from stardom, to tragedy, to a longtime career as an influential local restauranteur and business woman. The owner/operator of Croce's Park West took to Facebook today with a post providing a short history of her life and where she is now, and we thought it worth sharing.
In 1985, more than 10 years after her first husband, singer/songerwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash, Ingrid Croce sought space for rent in downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. The area was gentrifying and in the midst of redevelopment and Ingrid hadn't been in downtown San Diego since 1973, at a time retailers and urbanites were fleeing the cityscape for the sprawling suburbs. When she learned of a space was available at the corner of Fifth and F where she and Jim had once stopped in front of the Keating Building and Jim had joked about opening 'Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar', Ingrid decided to build a restaurant and bar there as a tribute to her late husband.
From 1985 to 1988, Croce's expanded five times, adding Croce’s Jazz Bar, a second restaurant, a rhythm and blues bar, Croce’s Top Hat Bar and Grille, Upstairs at Croce’s, and Croce’s Catering and Event Planners. Ingrid went on to become a board member of the California Restaurant Association, San Diego County Chapter and The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, learning a great deal from the civic work she did within her community. In 1988, Ingrid married her second husband, Jimmy Rock, a former attorney that she met at her restaurant. In 2004, Ingrid’s launched San Diego Restaurant Week. Now in its sixth year, the event draws 200,000 guests to close to 200 restaurants twice a year.
In January 2014, after nearly 30 years in business, the Gaslamp venue closed due to disputes with her landlord, and Ingrid opened Croce's Park West 18 blocks uptown, in San Diego's Banker's Hill district, which already had a reputation for great food.
Be sure to stop into Croce's Park West and learn more about Ingrid's story, sample some delicious offerings, and enjoy live music and nightly specials. Croce's Park West is located at 2760 Fifth Avenue. For more information, visit crocesparkwest.com or call (619) 233-4355.