— Free, All-Ages Event to be a Tribute to Ladies of Old Town’s Past —

The 7th annual Ladies Day in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will celebrate the everyday joys, activities and challenges of the women that lived in early San Diego from 1821 to 1872. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, June 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is named Daring, Delightful & Determined Women: A Day with the Ladies of Old Town.

“Ladies Day in Old Town will showcase activities that are educational as well as fun for both kids and adults,” said Deanna Turton, volunteer chair of the event. “People will walk away knowing what it was like to live in San Diego in the early to mid-1800s.”

The plaza will contain volunteers and decedents from Old Town performing living history demonstrations, such as a variety of 19th century games and crafts, historic hair dressing, historic dancing, soap making, basket weaving, crocheting and lace making .  There will be a garden tour as well as live entertainment and free refreshments.

Volunteers will also be showing clothing from the time period and how do to laundry by hand.  Throughout the day, there will be a silent auction to benefit Boosters of Old Town and its mission to support the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Historic dancing will continue in the evening at the Barra Barra Saloon. The celebration takes place right outside Barra Barra, which is located in the northeast section of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, at the corner of Wallace and Calhoun streets. Many of the shops and museums within the state park will have special activities as part of the Ladies Day celebration.

Free parking is available in the CalTrans headquarters on Taylor Street, one block from the event site.

Jeff Thurston, former executive chef of The Prado in Balboa Park, has been named the executive chef of the soon-to-open historic Cosmopolitan Restaurant in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

“Jeff has more than 20 years of exemplary culinary experience,” said Joseph Melluso, operator of The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant. “We know that his vision for The Cosmopolitan Restaurant is one that will honor the history of the building as well as infuse innovative ideas into this brand new restaurant.” 

Thurston spent the last 11 years as the executive chef at The Prado where, under his direction, the restaurant won multiple awards such as San Diego’s Best New Restaurant by San Diego Magazine and one of America’s Top Restaurants by Gourmet Magazine. He was also recently awarded “Chef of the Year” by the California Restaurant Association.

Thurston started his culinary career at the age of 14 at Le Pigalle in Toronto, where he was born and raised.

In 1990, Thurston started studying under Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles where he acquired the necessary skills to join the opening team as sous chef at the well-known Moose’s Restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach.

After working at Moose’s, he was recruited to be the sous chef at Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in San Francisco, where he became executive chef four months later. Chef Thurston later became consulting chef at Essex Supper Club in San Francisco.

After leaving San Francisco, he spent two years working in Seattle under Wolfgang Puck and then made the move to The Prado at Balboa Park in November 1999.

“My experience at The Prado will be very valuable at The Cosmopolitan Restaurant,” stated Thurston. “Much like The Prado, The Cosmopolitan is a San Diego historical institution that tourists and locals alike will treasure for years to come.  It is up to our opening team to set the standards very high as we know all of San Diego will be watching.” 

The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant is recognized as one of the most historically significant buildings in California and the oldest building within the state park system. When it reopens in June, the restaurant will include both indoor and outdoor bars and dining rooms.  The interior bar and dining areas have been meticulously restored and boast authentic mid-1800s furnishings collected from around the United States as well as chandeliers, draperies and wallpaper custom made to reflect what would have been in the rooms when it was the center of San Diego life and the only stagecoach stop in town.

For more information about Old Town’s Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, visit www.oldtowncosmopolitan.com.

Watch KPBS tonight!

May 24, 2010

Watch KPBS tonight at 9:30 to see a documentary dedicated to the restoration of the Cosmo:


Showcasing San Diego’s culture and history, including maritime, missions, Old Town, Mexico, early pioneers, and Native Americans, Old Town Gift Company is now open in Old Town’s Fiesta de Reyes.

Located in the center of the Fiesta de Reyes courtyard, Old Town Gift Co. carries historical gift items, many of which are antiques or replicas from the mid-19th century, cards, desk accessories and new and used books.

“My goal was a 19th century Hallmark-style store with a nautical and literary appeal, including gifts for men and women that complemented and tied back to the theme of the store,” said store owner Karen Abbott. “Nostalgia, laughter, interest and curiosity were the goals while educating and entertaining the customers that come to the state park in Old Town.”

This is the second store for Abbott at Fiesta de Reyes; she also owns Fiesta Cocina, which carries kitchenware, Mexican cooking and baking necessities, imported serving dishes and pottery. Old Town Gift Co. has a wide variety of desk accoutrements, from staplers to paperweights, desk clocks, writing pens and ink.  The store also features steel-tipped, glass-tipped and plum writing pens with ink wells and pen rests. Stamps and vintage postcards are also sold alongside accurate descriptions of the first mail route (overland mail) from San Antonio to San Diego in 1857-1858.

The store carries books by local authors, and about San Diego, as well as the wider history of the region including Baja. Old Town Gift Co. also has an extensive selection of historical period books from 1820-1870 that were either available in Old Town or written about the area.

“Customers can find unique pocket knives next to hand-carved miniature telescopes along with games and puzzles for the whole family,” said Abbott.

Fiesta de Reyes is located at Juan and Calhoun streets, a one-block stroll from the Old Town Trolley Station. In addition to Old Town Gift Co., the plaza boasts two restaurants, Barra Barra Saloon and Casa de Reyes, 16 other specialty stores and the soon-to-open Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.  For more information call (619) 297-3100 or visit http://www.FiestaDeReyes.com.

Located in the center of the Fiesta de Reyes courtyard, Old Town Gift Co. carries historical gift items, a wide variety of desk accessories, and historical books.

-Oldest Surviving Building in San Diego Announces June Opening –

The multimillion-dollar restoration of Old Town San Diego’s Cosmopolitan Hotel was celebrated recently with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 175-year-old building.

The Cosmopolitan, which was toured by guests of the event, includes an indoor and outdoor restaurant by the same name, boutique hotel with 10 rooms on the second level, along with private dining rooms for special occasions. The hotel is planned to open in mid-June.

The celebration kicked off with speakers and dignitaries arriving in a horse-drawn carriage through the middle of the state park and interpreters dressed in historic garb adorned the hotel’s veranda and balcony.

Chuck Ross, the owner and concessionaire of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, had a few words to say about the historic building.

“What a difference a year makes,” Ross stated. “In one year’s time, we have brought a new energy to Old Town.  We have dug in our heels and demanded that The Cosmopolitan be the best that it can be.”

Chuck Ross also introduced Joseph Melluso, the operator of The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.

“The Cosmo will honor all of the people of the past such as Albert Seeley and Juan Bandini, but also be a place that many generations will enjoy for years to come,” Melluso stated.

The building was originally constructed as the home of San Diego pioneer and early settler Juan Bandini in 1827, Seeley added the second floor and ran a stage stop and hotel on the property in 1869.

The ribbon was cut by Ronnie Clark, southern division chief of California State Parks, Bill Mennell, the state’s project manager for The Cosmopolitan, David Marshall of Heritage Architecture, architect, Bruce Coons of Save Our Heritage Organisation, Chuck Ross and Joseph Melluso.

“This building is one of the most important projects that our company has ever worked on,” stated Bruce Coons. “We are excited to take part in the renovation of one of the most significant buildings in the state of California.”

The renovation was funded by California State Parks, a California Cultural and Historical Endowment, Delaware North Companies and Old Town Family Hospitality Corp. General  Contractor was Soltek Pacific.

For more information about Old Town’s Cosmopolitan Hotel, visit oldtowncosmopolitan.com.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel ribbon was cut by (from left to right) Ronnie Lee Clark, California State Parks Southern Division Chief, Bill Mennell, California State Parks project manager, Bruce Coons of Save Our Heritage Organisation, David Marshall of Heritage Architecture, Chuck Ross of Old Town Family Hospitality Corp. and Joseph Melluso, The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant.

Cosmopolitan Hotel – History repeats itself – San Diego, California News Station – KFMB Channel 8 – cbs8.com.

Festivities Start Tonight at 5 p.m. Music, Margaritas, and Mariachis take over the state park and Fiesta de Reyes! Get there early!

Scroll down page to see more info and a flier for Cinco in the Park!!

Is everyone ready for Cinco de Mayo?

May 3, 2010

Reporter Carlos Rico got a preview of the restored and renovated Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town before it opens to the public in June. Click link below to see the video.

via Previewing the Cosmopolitan Hotel (San Diego Source).