Brockton Villa marks 25 years of sea-side dining in La Jolla



Brockton Villa restaurant is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, but the history of this picturesque property dates back to the turn of the century. The PREVIOUS century.

It was in 1900 that Nellie Mills, one of La Jolla’s first known real estate agents, rented out one of the beach cottages she and her sister, Olivia Mudgett, owned and named it Brockton Villa after Brockton, Mass. It seems that Nellie was of New England stock, according to the history posted on the Brockton Villa website.

Those enterprising sisters would be amazed by what is today Brockton Villa, one of the most popular dining and ocean-view spots not just in La Jolla but in all of San Diego. “This location and the view are really quite unique, even in La Jolla,” said Megan Heine, who with her husband Dave has owned Brockton Villa since 1994. “There aren’t many places that are right at the ocean’s edge.”

Heine is a daughter of the Pannikin family that originally transformed the Brockton Villa property from residential to commercial. The current workforce numbers around 40 depending on the time of year: there are more employees during tourist-heavy summertime. But Heine says Brockton Villa, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is equally popular with locals. “We have a menu at a price point that is affordable,” she said, “and it’s a pretty diverse menu that appeals to a lot of people, whether you’re a foodie or a Midwestern first-time-California visitor.”

Then there are the customers who have made Brockton Villa their special occasion destination for years. “We’ve had countless engagements here,” said Heine. “Then they come back and have their rehearsal dinner. Then they come back again and have their baby shower. Talk about repeat business!”

Private affairs such as those are also a major part of Brockton Villa’s success after 25 years. “We love doing private parties,” said Heine. “We’ve always approached our business like we approach entertaining in our home. Our slogan has been ‘Have your party at our house.’ ”

When you’re in their house, meaning the Heines’, you’ll see commemorations of both Brockton Villa history and that of Megan Heine’s Pannikin family, which was so instrumental in making this space what it is today. No wonder a certain honor bestowed years ago by the San Diego Architectural Foundation stands out as one of Heine’s proudest moments in 25 years of business on Coast Boulevard.

“When we received the Orchid Award for historic preservation and my stepdad had me accept the award, that was something I’m incredibly proud of,” she said. “We had to overcome a lot to build out the restaurant and preserve the building. Having that award in San Diego and knowing my family’s background in historic preservation was huge. I still get goosebumps when I talk about that.”

What’s Heine most proud of today? “Our longevity,” she replied without hesitation. “Two and a half decades is a long time in restaurant years.”

Brockton Villa is at 1235 Coast Blvd., La Jolla. Open daily, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (858) 454-7393.

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