Statement on Closing Croce’s

Well, I spent another sleepless night last night thinking about losing Croce’s… Not only because of what it means to me but what it means to our family of employees, and people everywhere.

When I first started out in the Gaslamp Quarter, I wanted community. And what I realize now is that Croce’s created that community…It’s a community of spirit, of shared memories and experiences that we hope will continue in people’s hearts and souls forever.

Croce’s was built around the authenticity of Jim Croce’s music that affects people in ways that still brings guests to our door every day.  Perhaps because Jim died so young, at only 30, it left a big hole in people’s hearts. And, folks needed a place to share their memories and find closure.

You see it isn’t only about the wonderful food, spirits and genuine service that we bring to our guests… it’s the most positive side of the sixties, where music was our religion.  

Croce’s is not like other restaurants…the sum of what we offer is really so much greater than all the parts. Somehow we found a way to make a living that didn’t require us to wear suits and ties and tight shoes and go through the motions of a job without passion. 

Every night our musicians continue to carry on this tradition with live music. Our chefs share their passion by creating great food and our service staff offers the kind of hospitality that Jim Croce and I used to share at our Pennsylvania farmhouse.

Romance has been a constant at Croce’s too. Guests have met other guests and employees have started new relationships with other employees…sometimes against our better judgment. But when people fall in love, there is no better place to do it…like Jimmy Rock and I did 26 years ago, on table twenty-one.  

I hate to think of all the people who will come back every year to celebrate their anniversaries, birthdays and special memories, only to find that Croce’s is gone. It breaks our hearts, because of what is being lost…It’s being taken away from us…and it can never be re-created again.

When Jim and I moved from Philadelphia to our new home town, we thought that like New York, and other cities, San Diego would have a downtown where we could find restaurants and small clubs. But when we got here, all we found were Strip joints, adult book stores and triple X- rated films.

After searching the Gaslamp for a while, we crossed to the corner of Fifth and F, and Jim said to me, “Ing, we’re just gonna have to build our own restaurant and invite our friends like James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, Bonnie Raitt and Arlo Guthrie to play here.

The next week Jim was killed in a plane crash.

After 12 years of brutal music business litigation, a friend called to show me the Keating Building on the corner of Fifth and F, the very same corner where Jim and I had stopped 12 years before.  I recognized it as an omen and I knew I needed to build a restaurant with live music right here, in his memory.

Up to now we have had two landlords who truly appreciated the importance of Croce’s at The Historic Keating Building on the corner of Fifth and F and what Croce’s means to our great City. We had hoped to keep Croce’s alive at least another thirty years, because people come from everywhere, all over the world, to tell us they have put us on their bucket list and can’t wait to visit us.

In fact, in the last couple of years, my husband, Jimmy Rock and I decided we needed to form a new little company called “Croce’s Neighborhood”, because what we have accomplished is so special, we wanted to create little islands of shared community throughout our city.

That’s why we were opening “Croce’s Park West” in Banker’s Hill… not as a substitute for Croce’s, our Flagship, but as a new island of hospitality and community.  We honestly never imagined that we would lose Croce’s.

But after spending the last 4 ½ years trying to work out a new lease agreement with our current landlord, he has informed us that he’s not going to give us a new lease and we have to leave on December 31st, 2013.

Obviously our landlord has other ideas for this space which are unknown to us.

The crazy thing is that when I first moved to the Gaslamp, there was the “Pussy Cat Theatre” right across the street from Croce’s. Now, right beneath our feet, our landlord has put in a burlesque club called the “Pussy Cat Doll House.”  What a full circle.

But, I promise, that as long as we are at Croce’s, we will make this the very best year ever. Our employees have already decided to do a reunion in July, for all employees that have ever worked at Croce’s. And we will invite back many of the musicians who have played at Croce’s throughout the years.

We are committed to keeping the spirit of Croce’s alive and thriving here in San Diego. We are about timeless…not about the trend.

Thank you all the love and friendship you have extended to us throughout the years. Please come join us and celebrate Croce’s before December 31st, 2013.

Ingrid Croce