Little Italy: Supping with a ghost named Wanda

The new Queenstown Public House comes with unexpected company in the 1905 house

Hauling up Cedar out of Little Italy, past the Pioneer Hook and Ladder – hey, didn’t that use to be the firehouse museum? - and crossing Columbia when whack!

Thar she blows! Former assemblywoman Lori Saldaña’s old HQ. Nice old house. They've been refurbishing it. Dust and dirt for months.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46051/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/061_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="None">

by Ed Bedford

But now, lookee here! This is six at night, and the newly planted garden is bustling with people, sitting at tables, eating, drinking…an old-old washing machine is stacked with coals and burning like a tableside fire pit.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46054/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/048_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="Old washing machine pressganged back into service">

https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/048_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9">Old washing machine pressganged back into service by Ed Bedford

Up along the porch, people stand, laugh, shout, chow, like , wassat famous French painting, oh yeah. Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

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by Ed Bedford

That’s what it feels like.

“Queenstown,” says the gold lettering on the window.

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by Ed Bedford

“Community,” says another window. We’re at 1557 Columbia Street, where it meets Cedar (619-546-0444). I head up the front stairs...

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by Ed Bedford

...and into this crowded room with a bar on the left with a backboard that goes right up to the second level. An Indian-style canoe hangs down the wall. So cool.

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by Ed Bedford

Manage to grasp the last available stool. Gal named Angeline comes to take my order.

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by Ed Bedford

Gosh. Just missed happy hour. But I get a nice dark beer, a Port Brown, for $6, and check the menu.

First thing I think is: these people are going for the Craft and Commerce crowd. Same vibe, same simple-but-not-that-cheap fare. Oh, I’m seeing what looks like New Zealand Maori words etched on the backboard mirrors. I knew these guys renovating this house were part of the Bare Back Grill gang. So bottom line, you know they’re going to deliver Kiwi-style grass-fed beef, and organic everything, because that’s what their rep. is based on. Nice to know. But it costs. Like, a kinda lamburger goes for $13. The “Sheila’s Cracked” burger with fried egg is eleven.

But eating light tonight anyway. Check the apps. Hmm. Veggie skillet, $8, chicken on a stick, $9, soup and sammie (“tomato basil soup served witrh pine nut and cream garnish, mozzarella and American grilled cheese”), $9…

D’ah… Talk to Todd and Jennifer, on stools next door.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46059/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/038_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="None">

by Ed Bedford

He’s just getting his “Queenstown Favorite” burger ($10), and it does look wicked. Big patty with edam cheese all crumbled on top. She just has the mixed greens salad, with strawbs and pine nuts ($8). Looks great. Plus they have a bowl of sweet potato fries with blue cheese crumbles on top ($3.50 for the small, $6 for the large)

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by Ed Bedford

Chris, one of the rushed-off-feet waiters, brings out a giant pretzel on a plate with jalapeño cheese and mustard for somebody nearby.

But that’s $9. Think I’ll get more with the soup and sammie.

I order that...

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46062/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/011_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="None">

by Ed Bedford

...and it slurps down great, sour cream in the middle, with plenty of liquid to dunk the crustless cheese sammies in.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46064/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/025_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="None">

by Ed Bedford

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46063/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/024_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="None">

by Ed Bedford

Love the atmos. Turns out the house has been here since 1905.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46056/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/037_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="Original 1905 rafters exposed, 108 years later">

https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/037_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9">Original 1905 rafters exposed, 108 years later by Ed Bedford

“Any stories about it?” I ask Angeline.

“Well, there’s the ghost, named Wanda…” she says confidentially, just before she whips off to a crowd of new customers.

Man. A ghost named Wanda.

http://sandiegoreader.com/users/photos/2013/may/22/46066/">https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/054_1_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9" alt="Could this be the ghost named Wanda, just behind the window...?">

https://media.sandiegoreader.com/img/photos/2013/05/22/054_1_t500x375.JPG?6082a6e19397c060de339a01cf43e8e65a1eebc9">Could this be the ghost named Wanda, just behind the window...? by Ed Bedford

Now I’ve gotta come back. With Carla. She’s the Ghostbuster around our house.


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