Alex Hughes — July, 2019 – As a child, I visited many of the same places which became quite the routine. We would tend to stick in the Oceanside and Carlsbad area with places such as Legoland, Carlsbad Premium Outlets and the El Camino North Shopping Center on Vista Way. We went to stores such as Barnes & Nobles, Pier 1 Imports, Chipotle and Macaroni Grill. We would also venture across the street to Camino Town and Country Shopping Center which had Target and Del Taco. To be honest, there was not too much else. This was before they had even built Noodles & Company and the Habit, so overall the shopping center was empty considering what wasn’t there opposite of Target.
Photos by Alex Hughes
The other side I do remember going to a coffee shop called Java Hut because my mom loved coffee. It was a small place in a circular shaped building; however, the roof was quite large. We did go to Anita’s Mexican Food in the same area. My aunt enjoys the food there when she visits from Japan. It was frankly one of the only areas with life on that side. For years, many of the buildings sat abandoned with a few tenants keeping it barely alive. I went back to take photos over three years ago before they had begun demolishing them. I always tended to ask what these places were because they sparked my curiosity. Faded signs, aging wood and roofs filled with leaves provided some sort of context of the businesses that once were. You also may notice the Spanish style architecture, especially with the terracotta roofs and the rusty hues in the photos. In one of the photos, you may notice the faded out sign that backwardly spells out “Teri Cafe” which is now located across the street along with the location by the Vista DMV. The outdoor seating is faded from the sun, and one of the tables is severely stained. There does not appear to be anything left in the restaurant. In addition, I have also included a drive-thru coffee shop that appeared to sell coffee, smoothies and cappuccinos which are quite a common sight in Vista as we now have Blackrock on East Vista Way along with Java Hut near the Post Office. One of the funniest places that I saw in terms of signs was “Cuts for Little People”. The sign itself was missing a panel and had the light beneath it exposed. It seems that they too cleared out their space. The biggest tenant was this old looking movie theater which you might see in old films. By the looks of it, it may have been from the 70’s considering all the wood that was used. You can see where they may have advertised the films with the cases out front including two ticket windows. The lobby was the coolest part with the geometric shapes and the color scheme. It seems the only beings watching these movies were the pigeons who used the rafters as their home. Overall, the parking lot was quite empty when I went those years ago. Ironically, they seemed to have kept the landscaping manicured. I always wondered why new tenants were not flocking here.
It seems they had demolished all of the buildings since I took these photos. I was quite surprised to see this take place as I thought they would renovate. It looked weird without any of the buildings and seemed to be less space than I imagined. Now instead of the ghost town, there are stores such as Win Co., Auto Zone and Sleep Number. The design of the buildings is completely different than what you see in my old pictures. When I went there a few months ago, I was taken aback to how transformative the construction had been. They were able to take a dead shopping center with few customers and turned it into a place with well known tenants who have a strong customer base. I’d recommend going there for yourself to see how much change has happened and compare the photos I have included to what you see now.