By SDCNN Staff
Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, located in the Kensington neighborhood of Uptown, received a top honor June 6 by Sen. Toni G. Atkins.
During the annual California Small Business Day luncheon in Sacramento, Atkins bestowed the 39th Senatorial District’s 2017 “Small Business of the Year” on the local Mexican restaurant, held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.
Ponce’s was first opened in 1969, by Ponciano Meza, and while the business has expanded since then, it is still in the same location. The Meza family believes their staff to be their most important asset and have always supported a living wage and health care benefits for all. They also believe in making an investment into their local community, and do so regularly by sponsoring Little League teams, participating in beach cleanups, The San Diego Community Center’s annual Dining Out For Life, and various other community projects. Representing Ponce’s in Sacramento were current owner Ponce Meza Jr. and Mikey Knab, director of operations.
On June 23, Sen. Atkins then held her annual Small Business of the Year mixer at The Studio Door in North Park, where she honored 19 other small businesses from the 39th District. Owned by LGBT artist Patric Stillman, the gallery was in the midst of its “PROUD” exhibition at the time of the small business event.
Following are some of the businesses honored that are more relevant to our community:
Tierrasantana — Industrial Grind Coffee: Since first opening its doors in a small nook on Park Boulevard in 2011, Industrial Grind has become a staple in the Hillcrest and Tierrasanta neighborhoods. After both having spent decades serving in the U.S. Navy, longtime couple Kathy Hansen and Barb Jeanine decided to fulfill their lifelong dream of opening a coffee shop upon retirement. Their attention to detail and welcoming environment has allowed Industrial Grind to expand to three locations in six years, including two in Hillcrest, and the introduction of their own gluten free bakery, IG Bakery.
Point Loma — The Wine Pub: The Wine Pub is a renowned wine bar, restaurant and retail shop located in the village of Point Loma, owned and operated by Sandy Hanshaw. Not only do they offer more than 30 types of amazing wine, but also paninis, sliders, salads and a list of great desserts. You can bring your four-legged friends to The Wine Pub, too. To give back to the community, Sandy – a breast-cancer survivor – often hosts fundraisers to support The Breast Cancer Fund, and she will be hosting her fifth annual Bike for Boobs event this October. The Wine Pub has also been an annual participant in The Center’s Dining Out For Life.
South Park — Kindred: This unique bar and restaurant, which replaced Alchemy in South Park, was a San Diego Architecture Foundation Orchid Award winner for interior design in 2016. The goal of the plant-based eatery — which has made huge waves since it opened in 2015 — is to not only astound you with its gothic architecture but also with the variety of food and drink on the menu. It is often referred to as a “death metal vegan.” Owner Kory Stetina has created a truly magical permanent eatery and bar in South Park. It’s no wonder residents in the neighborhood and San Diegans from afar flock to Kindred’s doors.
Mission Hills — Meshuggah Shack: From their central Mission Hills location on the southwest corner of Goldfinch Street and Fort Stockton Drive, Meshuggah Shack serves up a selection of tasty beverages and pastries. This culturally dynamic shop proudly displays an “All are welcome sign” that was installed to assure people of all backgrounds that they are welcome and appreciated. Most noted by customers is the style and design of the hip decorations that cover the stand, including paintings, pictures, figures, stickers and other items. Meshuggah Shack’s unique style and success in transforming a once-empty street corner into a vibrant neighborhood destination earned it an Orchid Award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation.
Carmel Valley — Hera Labs: Hera Labs serves as an entrepreneurial accelerator for female business owners and advocates fiercely for their success. Located in Carmel Valley, Hera Labs is run by its CEO, Silvia Mah, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and joined Hera Labs after graduating with an MBA from UC San Diego. The mission of Hera Labs is to propel female founders to successfully launch, grow and sustain their businesses efficiently and effectively, thereby enhancing the economy at every level. Hera Labs also provides invaluable resources to women business owners, such as workshops, textbooks, classes and other tools that provide information and advice for success.
Hillcrest — Shell Gas Station: Owners Nick Dalour and Nancy Younan have been business owners in the Uptown community since 1978 and are both active volunteers of the Hillcrest Business Association. They take their volunteer positions very seriously and work hard to foster a harmonious relationship among the local business owners, residents and visitors to the neighborhood.
La Jolla — Warwick’s Bookstore: The country’s oldest family-owned and -operated bookstore, Warwick’s dates all the way back to 1896. The bookstore in La Jolla is home to thousands of books of all genres that continue to impress even the most avid readers. Even more notable than the book selection is the staff of dedicated employees, who are extremely skilled in assisting customers in finding the exact book that they desire. This historic bookstore has attracted author book signings from all walks of life — from Ozzy Osbourne to Hillary Clinton. Additionally, Warwick’s offers a coffee-and-treats session every second Tuesday to discuss books and offers a generous 20-percent discount off of any of the books discussed.
North Park — A7D: A trusted and resourceful marketing and graphic-design firm, A7D Creative Group is located in the heart of North Park. This creative firm has been actively behind the re-brand of North Park as a San Diego destination. Owned by Anna and David Gamboa, A7D offers brand development, menu design, website design, social-media campaign management and much more. They attribute much of North Park’s growth to the unconditional support and camaraderie of fellow North Park business owners. A7D believes that without the thoughtfulness and creativity each business owner lends to North Park as a whole, the community would not be what it is today. David is the past board president of North Park Main Street, and Anna has been recently recognized by Wells Fargo as one of San Diego’s “Leading Ladies in Business.”
Other 2017 honorees include: College Area, Pesto Italian Craft Kitchen; Coronado, Root 75 Flower Shop; Downtown, Café Chole; Mira Mesa, Collins Family Jewelers; Normal Heights, Blind Lady Ale House; a second winner in North Park is Live Wire; Oak Park, Louie’s Marketplace; Ocean Beach, Lighthouse Ice Cream; Pacific Beach, Mr. Frostie; Rancho Bernardo, the Barrel Room; Rancho Pensaquitos, Christensen Realty; and Rolando Park, Wei Wei Express.
—The staff of the office of Senator Toni G. Atkins contributed to this story.
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