Committee warms to plans for coffee and toast shop at long-vacant La Jolla Boulevard spot

The planned location of Rikka Fika coffee house at 5752 La Jolla Blvd.
The planned location of Rikka Fika coffee house at 5752 La Jolla Blvd. would change little on the outside under a project supported by the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A La Jolla Boulevard space that has been vacant for five years could get a new coffee shop and “toast cafe” in coming months.

Management behind the planned Rikka Fika location at 5752 La Jolla Blvd. in Bird Rock got approval from the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee during its Oct. 11 meeting.

The PDO Committee reviews development applications in the parts of La Jolla regulated by the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance. For projects such as this one — sign or facade renovations — that require no other discretionary permits, the recommendations are forwarded to the La Jolla Community Planning Association for ratification before they are submitted to the city of San Diego.

According to the company, “Rikka” is a Japanese word for the first day of summer and “Fika” is a Swedish word for “an essential daily ritual to slow down and take a coffee break.” The shop is intended to be a communal space where “our guests can take a break from their daily routines and come to gather and reconnect with friends … or themselves.”

The cafe will serve “Japanese-style toast,” which is described as “sweet and savory … and fluffy” and baked daily onsite.

Applicant Scott Chen, one of the owners, told the PDO board that little would change on the exterior of the building, with the only modifications being enlarging an existing skylight, refinishing the sidewalk area immediately fronting the shop, removing a small awning in the front and adding new wood trim for the doors and windows.

The shop’s logo would feature backlighted lettering on a 10.4-square-foot sign. The general manager plans to occupy an existing residential unit in the back.

The interior would feature a coffee and espresso bar, a kitchen with baking equipment and a “multipurpose showroom area with interesting coffee equipment where we can host tasting sessions and lessons for brewing coffee,” Chen said.

The location has been empty since 2016, when Bird Rock Sushi & Oyster closed.

PDO trustee Joe Parker said questions arose about parking during a presentation to the Bird Rock Community Council.

David Lang, the project architect, said employee parking spaces in the back would be used and the frontage would be open to the public. Noting that it was once an eating establishment, he said he hopes the public parking would be sufficient.

La Jollan Christy Littlemore said “parking isn’t as much an issue in Bird Rock as in other parts of La Jolla. I think it’s fine that they don’t have [dedicated spots]. … I would rather have a business there than an empty building.”

Others said they liked that the frontage would not change.

A motion supporting the project and finding that it meets the terms of the PDO passed unanimously.

A timeline for construction and opening was not available. ◆