Restaurateur Ingrid Croce, who owned San Diego’s longest-running jazz venue (in one form or another) has suddenly shuttered the doors at Croce’s Park West, the nightspot she and husband Jimmy Rock opened in Bankers Hill in 2014 after relocating from the Gaslamp district. Many local musicians are stunned by the news.
“I was supposed to play there tomorrow night,” says vocalist Leonard Patton. “I was shocked and saddened…because of what Croce’s has meant to this town. Venues rise and fall, but Croce’s stood for a long time.”
Steph Johnson is one of many with fond ties to the restaurant and its owner. “I’m shocked and saddened that Croce’s is no longer, but I’m happy to think of less stresses for Ingrid and Jim. I don’t know how they did it, having live music every night of the week. It was a wonderful musical ritual in this town and it added so much to the character of San Diego. I want to show Ingrid what it meant for all of us she employed over the years. She became my friend and I just want her to know she inspires me.”
“I certainly have fond memories of ‘hanging’ at Croce’s,” recalls pianist Joshua White. “But as with most everything else in the world, change is inevitable, though I’m sure the decision to sell was a difficult one for Ingrid to make, but perhaps it was the right decision, given her circumstances — who knows?”
“I was completely surprised by the news that they had closed,” says bassist Rob Thorsen via email. “I know that there had been challenges with opening a new venue after many years in the Gaslamp. This is definitely a big loss to our music community.”
2760 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
Flutist Holly Hofmann and her pianist husband Mike Wofford think the closing might be a sign of the times. “Music supper clubs have always been a problem in Southern California. After years of a no-cover charge policy for nationally acclaimed jazz artists at clubs like Elario's, we've noticed that listeners often expect to dine without paying a music charge."
The last performance at Croce’s turned out to be by the Danny Green Trio, although he didn’t know it at the time. “I had no idea that Sunday would be the last night. The manager was telling me what a great week they had…It really didn't seem like Croce's would close the next day.”