North Coast Current

Construction reveals a bit of Cardiff history

Uncovered Speedee Mart sign creates buzz in town; pizza restaurant slated for space

Construction+at+the+west+end+of+Cardiff-by-the-Sea+Shopping+Center%2C+pictured+Jan.+24%2C+has+revealed+an+old+Speedee+Mart+sign+not+seen+since+the+1960s.+%28North+Coast+Current+photo%29
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Construction reveals a bit of Cardiff history

Construction at the west end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea Shopping Center, pictured Jan. 24, has revealed an old Speedee Mart sign not seen since the 1960s. (North Coast Current photo)

Construction at the west end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea Shopping Center, pictured Jan. 24, has revealed an old Speedee Mart sign not seen since the 1960s. (North Coast Current photo)

Construction at the west end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea Shopping Center, pictured Jan. 24, has revealed an old Speedee Mart sign not seen since the 1960s. (North Coast Current photo)

Construction at the west end of Cardiff-by-the-Sea Shopping Center, pictured Jan. 24, has revealed an old Speedee Mart sign not seen since the 1960s. (North Coast Current photo)

Michele Leivas

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Residents of Cardiff-by-the-Sea got a blast from the past when recent construction at the corner of San Elijo Avenue and Aberdeen Drive revealed an homage to Cardiff history — the Speedee Mart sign.

The resurrected sign, covered up by decades of renovations as other businesses and restaurants moved into the space, triggered a surge of fond memories by Cardiff residents, who took to social media to share Speedee Mart anecdotes, from the candy they’d buy there for just a dime to family memories or stories.

John Brannon has been a resident of Cardiff for 30 years. Standing in front of the building, still under construction, he reminisced about his surfer days as a teenager.

“It was a trip to see that sign again,” he said. “When I was a kid, I used to come surfing here and (Speedee Mart) was always here.”

Brannon described his surfing ritual that began in the water and ended at the convenience store for replenishment after hitting the waves.

The revealing of an old Speedee Mart sign at Cardiff-by-the-Sea Shopping Center, pictured Jan. 24, stirred buzz on social media over the past month. (North Coast Current photo)

The revealing of an old Speedee Mart sign at Cardiff-by-the-Sea Shopping Center, pictured Jan. 24, stirred buzz on social media over the past month. (North Coast Current photo)

The sign may have generated a rush of nostalgia, but the construction is inspiring others to look to the future. Best Pizza and Brew will be the newest tenant of 102 Aberdeen Drive, slated to open its doors within the next six to eight weeks, according to contractor Greg Jenkins.

Joe Mettee, manager of another Cardiff institution, next-door VG Donuts, paused to recall that when he was a kid, “we’d take all our Coke bottles back there” before adding of the new business. “I like the fact that it’s John Freis because he’s been here before and he knows what he’s doing.”

Freis will be the owner of VG’s new next-door neighbor.

Best Pizza and Brew will be the newest pizza joint for residents to choose from, including East Coast Pizza and nearby Besta-Wan Pizza House.

When asked if there might be any efforts to preserve the local throwback to 1950s Cardiff, Encinitas city Senior Planner II Kerry Kusiak stated, “The sign is painted on the wall. The plans call for a facade treatment to cover that wall. I’m not sure if they will be able to, or intend to, keep the painted sign behind the facade improvement. The applicant expressed that they may photograph the signs and use the photos as decoration in the restaurant.”

Whether it is just a temporary ode to a bygone era or the sign will be preserved for future residents to enjoy, the Speedee Mart sign has certainly rekindled a fond nod to the past while looking to the future.

Michele Leivas is a San Diego freelance writer

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