Like many older, industrial neighborhoods across the country, Makers Quarter in San Diego has evolved several times over. It’s been the setting of the automotive revolution in the 1920s, a renowned institution for fifty years of boxing glory, and even the one-stop-shop furniture showroom. Uncertainty and economic conditions led to the area’s decline for years, but a renaissance is taking place, pushed by the visionaries at HP Investors who are leading the reinvention of Maker Quarter into one of the city’s up-and-coming entertainment and arts districts.
No building in the neighborhood is more notable than the historic Coliseum Athletic Club which was home to numerous legendary boxing matches during the Golden Age of boxing, as well as a prominent focal point of both Hispanic-American and African-American heritage. Although the building hasn’t been the scene of a boxing match in decades, OZ and the team at Punch Bowl Social saw an entertainment future. The team embarked on yet another adaptive reuse adventure that K.O.’s the prosaic in favor of eclectic, imaginative design that is decidedly fitting for the restaurant’s 14th location.
Spanning 23,500 square feet, Punch Bowl Social San Diego reflects the Coliseum’s historic boxing stadium roots through thoughtful design elements including reclaimed materials from nearly a century ago. Old bleacher seating was reborn as eye-catching, geometric wall décor. Seatbacks and cushions from the original stadium seating have been restored and installed by Punch Bowl Social’s new bocce ball area. Gym mats were salvaged and repurposed as ceiling accents above the dart boards. What’s more, murals on the wall feature images of feathers and barbells for a sly reference to a boxer’s weight class, while another mural portrays a well-dressed rodent, a playful reference to the late San Diego professional boxer Archie Moore, aka “Old Mongoose.”
Traditional Punch Bowl Social elements were also highlighted within the unique space, with skylights casting a glow on the areas like the 360-degree bar, purposely installed where the former boxing ring once stood. Bowling lanes exist on both the ground level as well as the mezzanine level, where restrooms, an office and a private karaoke room have been designed to mimic 1920s-era offices where agents and managers would perch overlooking the boxing ring below.
On Saturday, June 9, Punch Bowl Social San Diego will open among street-side cafes and restaurants, movie theater, and independent boutiques. OZ has been instrumental in helping many neighborhoods like Makers Quarter transform into the eclectic, interesting arts districts of their metro area. Like Denver’s RiNo (link to RiNo posts), Makers Quarter and others like it will evolve these cities’ formerly downtrodden industrial zones into thriving destinations.