Pannikin founder Bob Sinclair dies after motorcycle crash

Robert “Bob” Sinclair, who founded Pannikin Coffee & Tea and Café Moto, died Aug. 6 following a motorcycle accident in New Mexico.

He was injured on July 28, after losing control of his motorcycle and being thrown from the bike, according to


He also opened La Jolla’s Brockton Villa, now owned by his stepdaughter Megan Heine and her husband David who also own Beaumont’s. as well as several other branches of the Pannikin

Heine said her stepfather was a man of many interests who inhabited many “worlds.”

She said her family would refer to “all the different Bobs — motorcycle Bob, landlord Bob, folk art Bob: He had more modes than anybody I ever heard of.”

Sinclair cut a handsome figure with his trademark handlebar mustache. He was also known for his fancy hats and Southwestern jewelry.

Sinclair and his wife of 34 years, Gay, who lived in WindanSea, were a familiar scene walking their pair of Russian wolfhounds on the beach.

One of the most notable things about Bob Sinclair was that he was far thinking, said Heine.

“He was a real visionary; passionate and enthusiastic about sharing his vision,” she said noting, “He was involved with coffee before Starbucks and the gourmet coffee craze and with the Gaslamp Quarter before it was the Gaslamp Quarter. He was really into getting things done the right way.”

Though from his appearance, many would surmise that he was eccentric and aloof, Heine said, particularly where business was concerned, he was very down to earth.

“He was a self-made guy who didn’t go to college,” she said, noting he was a voracious reader with an inexhaustible memory. “Growing up, at the dinner table we’d try to stump him with some random subject thinking he didn’t know anything about it … but he would go on a 20-minute discourse … he knew so much.”

Heine said Bob and his wife traveled the world collecting folk art, ethnic art such as textiles, weaving, woodwork, masks, etc.

“He became a very renowned collector of international folk art,” she said.

More recently Sinclair had been active in the downtown’s East Village community, where he had purchased real estate and helped found the East Village Association. His latest ventures were in New Mexico, where he owned a ranch and invested in historic properties in Taos, according to an article in the 2008 newsletter of the La Jolla Historical Society, an organization he as an active member of.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Bob Sinclair’s name be made to a recent cause of his, building a new library in downtown San Diego.