Harbor Breakfast resides in the circa 1887 building on the corner of India and Beech Streets with a long and colorful history.
In the beginning, at least by 1888, it was a liquor store. Renovations have exposed clear redwood framing that would have arrived from the North in the huge rafts of logs used in the day to transport wood from Oregon. The Sanborn Insurance maps describe a commercial structure with a stable to the West and a vacant block to the North. But by 1909, the building was remodeled, including additions to include “tenements” and, possibly owing to the odd framing uncovered in recent renovations, an addition expanding the building horizontally. Still, the entire building is old enough to be balloon framed in redwood spanning from the foundation to the roof, close to thirty feet in length.
By 1927 the building was occupied by a grocer. This period is seen in a popular Little Italy historical picture depicting three butchers standing in front of sides of beef on hooks in the same windows we see today on India Street. We suspect from that photo that the grocery was perhaps primarily a butcher shop. The store was called Rauner and Schmidt Grocery and occupied the building between 1927 and 1938.
A series of businesses serving the fishing industry occupied the building starting with San Diego Marine Hardware 1943-1975. The business probably also serving as a Rope warehouse from 1956-1959 offered items for sale included Paint between 1950-1959. Pete Folger, a Little Italy personality and sidewalk fixture operated Harbor Marine Supply between 1980-2013, staying on well beyond the decline of fishing in San Diego. In 1995 the business was saved to protect the neighborhood history it expressed. The residential block of which the building is a part, was the result of a competition of Centre City Development Corp, won by architect/developers hoping to demonstrate how higher density housing could enliven Little Italy. Visit the block’s interior which has been celebrated in Architectural and Planning journals around the world.
The painted image was before 1953 when there were no commercial structures on the block North of the Building on India Street . By 1966 there are building to the North and in 1975 there was a fire that permits indicate was repaired by the owner Robert Ingram. Some time during that period it was rumored that the mayor of San Diego was arrested in what was described as a house of prostitution in the rooms for rent that occupied the upper floor. At least we like to tell that story.
In 1995 the building was longer than it is today with a back porch that must have had a great view of the harbor. A shorter residential tenement existed behind the building, both of which were raised shortening the building and property to a 50-foot square. At that time a pilothouse-like third floor was added by Little Italy. Neighborhood team member and architect Robin Brisebois in his remodel of the structure.
Construction was finally completed on Harbor Breakfast , which opened up the South elevation and added the sidewalk dining on Beech Street. The business opened in August 1, 2014, and plans to be here for a long time.