Business is perking up at coffee shops around Ramona, most noticeably with a renovation going on at the Starbucks at 13th and Main streets.
The Starbucks store closed in early February for a remodeling expected to continue into March. After it reopens, customers will notice additional patio seating and a new café space, a spokesperson said.
Main Street Coffee
Down the street at 680 Main St., the familiar Packard’s Coffee Shop has begun its transition into Main Street Coffee.
Packard’s owner Nora Seidl said good-bye to the business she has owned since 2009 on Jan. 14.
Seidl said she notified her loyal customers about the change.
“It did hit me hard,” she said of the sale. “I didn’t think it was going to, but this was my life and my love for 12 years. I’m losing a love. It’s heartbreak.”
Shawna Reckling, the new owner, said she loves coffee and interacting with customers and has always wanted to be a business owner in Ramona. While driving her daughter, Kimberly, to Salem University in West Virginia over the summer, Reckling said she stopped at several coffee shops along the way to get ideas for what her own shop could look like.
When she returned home, she had a casual conversation with Seidl about her dreams and Seidl offered to sell her the shop on the spot.
“I asked Nora what worked and what didn’t, and she offered to sell the shop to me, so I bought it,” Reckling said.
Seidl said she is not selling her business because she and her husband, Gene, were not successful — even during the difficult pandemic years. They want to make family changes but also have health concerns, including Seidl’s recent COVID diagnosis, they said.
Packard’s was originally opened in April 1993 by Rath Webster and James Hernandez. The duo named the coffee shop for a Packard luxury car they owned. Once Seidl took ownership, she began selling a Café Moto coffee produced by a San Diego roaster. The premium coffee is organic and fair trade, she said.
“We’re very precise in how we brew it and everything is staying the same in regards to that, because why mess with a great product?” said Seidl, who will continue running Seidl’s Party Rentals and plans to launch the Baked by Nora baking business.
“Ramona should be excited about what’s coming to Main Street Coffee,” she said. “We have one of the best patios in town. Come and sit and watch the world go by.”
Seidl made changes to Packard’s over the years. She offered smoothies before they were popular and sandwiches until Jersey Mike’s opened a store in Ramona. The store’s current offerings include baked goods such as scones, breakfast sandwiches, and Seidl’s specialty, crepes.
Seidl weathered the competition when Starbucks opened in town with the support of her “amazing customers.” When in-store dining closed due to pandemic-related space limitations, Seidl began sprucing up the patio with new plants including bougainvillea and Japanese wisteria.
“You have to be diversified and you have to be able to withstand everything,” she said.
Seidl found a vintage Main Street Coffee sign during one of her shopping excursions and showed it to the new owner, Reckling, who liked it so much she used the name.
Reckling, whose background is in construction management for the past decade, said she is ready for the new challenge.
Among her plans are upgrading the patio with new seating arrangements and applying for a beer and wine license. A big goal is to create a welcoming space that attracts customers on the Thursday night Ramona American Graffiti Cruise nights on Main Street, she said.
Reckling also plans to collaborate with other businesses. She’s already offering dog treats made by Generation Day adult day care business in Ramona.
“What sets us apart is our patio and location, and our crepes and breakfast sandwiches,” she said.
Cedar Rose Cafe
Another coffee shop just starting up in Ramona is Cedar Rose Cafe, which recently opened near Mamma Ramona’s restaurant at 1130 D St., Suite 10.
Cedar Rose Cafe is run by Gena Haidar, a special education instructional aide in the Poway Unified School District and Ramona resident since 2019.
Haidar entered the education profession to have a flexible schedule that aligned with her former husband’s military obligations and allowed her to spend more time with her two daughters, ages 11 and 14 now. But running a business has always been her dream and now she says she has the opportunity and time to pursue it.
Haidar, 41, said she hopes to transition out of her current job by summertime. But she’s taking it slow to make sure Cedar Rose Cafe has enough foot traffic to make it work.
The shop is currently open 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on weekends, but she hopes to expand that to 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. this summer and ideally to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on weekends.
Haider’s long-term goal is to expand to a full-service Lebanese-Mediterranean cafe in a Main Street location.
She previously operated Pita Diva, a Mediterranean-inspired café at the former farmer’s market in San Diego Country Estates. When space became available in her current location at the Villa Rosa Center, she moved Pita Diva into one of its storefronts. When she realized there wasn’t enough space for a full-scale restaurant and faced competition from the new Sofie’s Pita in Ramona, she renamed the business Cedar Rose Cafe and shifted her focus to serving prepackaged food and specialty drinks, teas and coffees.
Cedar Rose Cafe offers a variety of hot and cold drinks, including James Coffee Co. coffee and specialty drinks that come in four bases: lemonade, tea, soda and pineapple juice. Food items include pastries, all-vegan bakery items from Split Bakehouse, and gluten-free banana bread and lemon loaf from Ramona Country Bakery.
Haidar said her own cooking and flavors were inspired by her grandmother, Fatima Haidar, who she visited in Lebanon while growing up. Haidar said during the 1980s she stayed with her grandmother for an extended period in the middle of a civil war. While staying on her grandmother’s farm, which is reminiscent of Ramona, Haider often spent time cooking with her.
The small bites Haidar prepares off-site that are on Cafe Rose’s menu include hummus, babaganoush, cucumber yogurt and stuffed grape leaves. She uses ingredients such as cardamoms, rose water, orange blossom and dates. And the store also sells Mediterranean-inspired items such as scarves, perfume bottles and soaps.
“My business side was inspired by my father,” she said. “He was an entrepreneur and he traveled most of Europe and Africa and sold fabrics. He spoke seven languages to be able to speak to his customers.”
Haidar said it was always an expectation that she would run her own business, but was delayed by marrying young, taking care of children and working at restaurants and hotels and in the retail industry.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University last year.
“Between COVID and moving to Ramona my wheels started turning and I was rethinking what I wanted to do and this is it,” Haidar said. “Ramona’s been our new home and it’s been such a positive experience. I have an opportunity to bring something new and inclusive.”
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