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‘Toast to the Coast’: Couple’s story of culinary inspiration helps Brockton Villa celebrate 30 years

Megan (left) and Dave Heine (right), owners of Brockton Villa, congratulate Michael Sinha and Kelsey Halvorsen.
Megan (left) and Dave Heine (right), owners of Brockton Villa, congratulate Michael Sinha and Kelsey Halvorsen, who won the restaurant’s 30th-anniversary story contest by sharing how Brockton’s “Coast Toast” dish inspired their move to San Diego.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

To celebrate 30 years of serving food with a view of La Jolla Cove, Brockton Villa awarded a local couple a gift basket with more than $2,000 worth of prizes.

Carmel Valley residents Kelsey Halvorsen and Michael Sinha walked away with the grand prize after having brunch Sept. 2. The summer-long contest that Brockton Villa sponsored was called “Toast to the Coast: Add Your History to Ours,” in which entrants were asked to submit their favorite memory of the restaurant to help commemorate its anniversary.

The basket contained certificates for two nights at La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner at Brockton Villa, brunch and dinner at Beaumont’s in Bird Rock, a kayak tour for two, a bottle of champagne and Brockton Villa merchandise, including a box of frozen “Coast Toast,” Brockton’s signature dish.

The Coast Toast helped Brockton Villa owners Megan and Dave Heine choose Halvorsen and Sinha’s story out of 67 entries.

The couple first sat on the Brockton Villa patio at 1235 Coast Blvd. in August 2020 during a trip from their native Minnesota, Halvorsen wrote. “I had never been to California before, so naturally everything took my breath away.”

Michael Sinha sits at Brockton Villa in La Jolla during his and Kelsey Halvorsen's first visit to California in August 2020.
Michael Sinha sits at Brockton Villa in La Jolla during his and Kelsey Halvorsen’s first visit to California in August 2020. The meal they had that day inspired their eventual move to San Diego.
(Kelsey Halvorsen)

She said Coast Toast — the restaurant’s version of French toast, made souffle-style with orange flavor — led her to tell Sinha, “I wish I could have this all the time.”

A month later, back in Minnesota, Sinha made Halvorsen Coast Toast for her 30th birthday and told her he wanted the couple to move to San Diego.

“He said I could have Coast Toast at my fingertips any day of the week,” Halvorsen said in her story. The two moved to San Diego eight months later and “continue to go back to Brockton Villa and talk about how this place made us fall in love with California. We laugh over the fact that Coast Toast made us move to the coast.”

“This place is very special for us,” Sinha said when the two went to Brockton Villa to take home their prize.

“Being a part of their history feels good,” Halvorsen said.

Brockton Villa was built in 1894 as one of La Jolla’s first seaside cottages. Megan Heine and her stepfather, Bob Sinclair, converted the building into a restaurant in 1991 as part of Sinclair’s Pannikin chain, she said.

Heine took on the restaurant as her own in 1994, marrying Dave and opening Beaumont’s a short while later.

Heine said having the story contest to celebrate Brockton Villa’s 30th anniversary is a duplicate of a similar commemoration of the restaurant’s 10th anniversary.

“The reason I wanted to repeat it is because we hear so many great stories all about people coming here, enjoying the restaurant, enjoying our hospitality, enjoying La Jolla, enjoying the view,” she said.

All the entries “were great,” Heine said. “It was really hard to choose. Some were really bittersweet,” such as one that included the last photo of a family taken before the grandfather died.

Kelsey Halvorsen and Michael Sinha shared another meal at Brockton Villa on Sept. 2.
Kelsey Halvorsen and Michael Sinha shared another meal at Brockton Villa on Sept. 2, when they took home the top prize in the restaurant’s 30th-anniversary contest.
(Kelsey Halvorsen)

Other stories recounted weddings with restaurant staff members dancing along. Some relayed other celebrations, such as when a group of nurses met for the first time as the COVID-19 pandemic ebbed.

Wading through the stories, “it felt really good to know how much we and our place mean to a lot of people for all different reasons,” Heine said.

She said Halvorsen and Sinha’s story took the grand prize because of the prominence of the Coast Toast dish, of which Brockton will sell its millionth order this year.

“I appreciate that they love Coast Toast as much as we do,” Heine said. “It just hit all the right notes. I thought it was a good story.” ◆