By Pablo Jaime Sainz
Now when you visit Old Town, you’ll be literary taking a tour through San Diego’s early history.
That’s thanks to Plaza del Pasado, which has the location Bazaar del Mundo used to have.
“When people visit Old Town it will be very different,” said Plaza del Pasado general manager Roseanne Diamond-De La Mata. “We really want the park to represent the beginnings of Old Town, but we have maintained the same festive atmosphere and the family-oriented environment.”
While Bazaar del Mundo featured contemporary Mexican themes, the new Plaza del Pasado will resemble the early San Diego period of 1821 to 1872, Diamond-De La Mata said.
She said that Delaware North, the company that manages Plaza del Pasado, has made sure that all the historical details that are present at the Plaza accurately portray that point in time.
“Visitors will be able to relive the way early Californians did,” Diamond-De La Mata said.
As examples, she said that employees will be dressed in traditional attire from that era, such as colorful dresses for women.
Diamond-De La Mata said that Plaza del Pasado will cover three periods in San Diego’s history: From 1821 to 1846, which represents the Mexican period; from 1846 to 1866, which is the transition period; and from 1866 to the turn of the century, which is the American period.
The new Plaza del Pasado will feature three restaurants (The Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Hotel, The Jolly Boy Saloon and Restaurant,and Casa de Reyes Restaurant) and eight retail stores, she said.
“The opening of Casa de Reyes in Plaza del Pasado and our new retail stores will complete our transition into Old Town,” Diamond-De La Mata said. “Now visitors can begin to look forward to the completion of our extensive renovation program that will restore the Park’s historical integrity.”
Old Town is famous for the fine restaurants that were available at Bazaar del Mundo. That tradition will continue with Plaza del Pasado.
“People come to Old Town because they love the food, and that’s not going to change,” said Al Gonzalez, Director of Operations. “Our culinary team will prepare all of the Old Town Mexican favorites with an integration of Latin and international flavors.”
The Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Hotel will feature an International dining experience, serving items such as seared Atlantic salmon, braised lamb shank and grilled mahi mahi as well as traditional Mexican items such as enchiladas, tacos and burritos.
The Jolly Boy Saloon and Restaurant will bring together traditional Mexican dishes and seafood in an upscale dining atmosphere, serving everything from grilled albacore and Mexican tacos to martinis and draft beers.
“The Jolly Boy’s colorful history is unique to the State Park because of its reputation as a gambling and billiard hall,” Diamond-De La Mata said. “The ambiance we are creating will be remindful of the Saloon’s past, visitors will surely enjoy the antique long bar and pool tables crafted to become the focal point of the Saloon.”
The third restaurant, Casa de Reyes will provide a festive family atmosphere featuring traditional Mexican combination plates with items such as soups, salads, burritos and enchiladas.
“We are pleased to be able to offer such a variety of unique and flavorful dishes to our visitors,” Diamond-De La Mata said. “Our management team has worked extensively to re-create a historical atmosphere that not only compliments the food but also leaves lasting impressions with every State Park visitor.”
The eight retail stores to open in the Plaza include Casa de Moreno-Marron, Casa de Serrano, Tienda Nueva, Corral Del Rey, Rudolph Schiller’s Books, La Roperia, and Tienda La Luz.
Plaza del Pasado will serve as a departure to other tourist attractions in San Diego because a new feature, the Old Town Concierge, a visitor’s information place, will guide tourists through the region.
“Old Town is just one of many great historic attractions in the San Diego Region,” Diamond- De La Mata said. “The Old Town Concierge Service will help visitors in Old Town enjoy the historic elements of the State Park and will also link visitors to other San Diego destinations such as SeaWorld, The Zoo, and the Old Town Trolley and Seal Tours.”
While many people saw Bazaar del Mundo, which was in Old Town for more than 30 years, as an excellent San Diego tradition, visitors welcomed the new Plaza del Pasado.
“It’s exciting to see how San Diegans dressed and lived back in the old days,” said visitor Manuel Higuera.
To learn more about the history behind Plaza del Pasado visit www.plazadelpasado.com.