A little while ago I was out with a San Diego blogging group arranged by @sdbargainmama and @iizliz when I had the opportunity to meet Ingrid Croce at Croce’s Restaurant in the Gaslamp District. I’d heard great things about the restaurant – which stands as a tribute to legendary singer Jim Croce – but hearing the story from Ingrid herself was remarkable.
Before Jim Croce became known for his chart-topping hits such as Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and Time in a Bottle, he and Ingrid met in Philadelphia when she was a sophomore in high school and he was a sophomore in college (he was a judge at a singing contest where she earned first place!). The two married and spent years singing together. They moved from Philadelphia to New York, and on to Pennsylvania, where they delighted in making home-cooked meals for their friends and fellow musicians. Shortly after moving to San Diego, the pair were out and about downtown looking for a restaurant one night. They were disappointed by the city center (which was in a relative state of disrepair at the time) and Jim remarked that they should open their own restaurant and offer San Diego a taste of their home cooking and music.
A week later, Jim died in a plane crash. Ingrid dreamt of opening a restaurant in his honor and after twelve long years of legal battles for the rights to his name, her dream was realized – on the exact corner where she and Jim had stopped! Croce’s was a hit and the Gaslamp district grew from it’s spot on and Fifth and F, evolving into the entertainment center that it is today. The Croce empire now includes a jazz bar, catering company, cafe, art gallery and – of course – the restaurant, where Croce’s music is played and patrons enjoy impeccable service as well as a variety of delicious food.
Ingrid has continued to live an inspiring life, heading numerous business developments. She has also authored memoir/cookbook “Thyme in a Bottle,” which includes recipes from the restaurant. She was kind enough to share the book and some of Jim Croce’s CDs with our group when we visited. She even met her current husband at the very table that I dined at! (I know, I’m a sucker for a good love story).
Here’s some of the group. From left to right: CJ (@publicremix) from Public Remix, me, Cathy (@cathynguyen) from Leather and Bags, and Suzette (@MamarazziKnowsB) from Mamarazzi Knows Best. And of course, don’t forget to check out @IngridCroce from Croce’s Restaurant (@CrocesRest)!