Casa de Bandini – The Mark of A Winner

| July 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

My email inbox overflows every day with offers of self-help and how-to books. Some of them describe at great length the characteristics of successful businesspeople. But in my mind, the most obvious predictor of success is a tenacious attitude to keep going in the face of obstacles until success is achieved.

Diane Powers has that quality and is successful. She held the lease to much of Old Town in San Diego for thirty years, filling it with restaurants, shops and attractions, creating one of the top tourist spots in California. The area of Old Town she ran was called Bazaar Del Mundo.

Old Town, on the fringes of downtown, is where the city of San Diego began to develop. Eventually, when California became part of the United States, it became the county seat. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park preserves and recreates Old Town as it existed during the Mexican and early American periods, from its settlement in 1821 through 1872.

One of the buildings preserved in Old Town was Casa de Bandini or “house of Bandini.” Juan Bandini was one of the eminent early settlers of San Diego and he built a large single story home there. The home was later expanded, with a second story added — even though Bandini no longer owned it.

Diane Powers created a beautiful restaurant in the old building, which was decorated in an old Spanish style. It had a beautiful interior and gorgeous gardens with fountains for outdoor dining. To retain its sense of history, she appropriately named it Casa de Bandini. For years, it served great Mexican cuisine to its loyal diners.

In 2005, things changed drastically. The California agency did not renew its contract with Diane Powers but, instead, awarded the contract to Delaware North Corporation. She lost all she had built over 30 years.

Many people would have simply retired, gone on to the simple life. Not so with Powers. She picked herself up and began developing new locations but continued with some of the brands, menus and concepts of her operations in Old Town. Now, she operates Casa Guadalajara on the edge of Old Town, Casa de Pico in Grossmont Center, a new restaurant opening soon in Del Mar and, of course, Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad. Those locations may not have historical significance but they’re where the people are.

Powers overcame losses, disappointments and difficulties to relocate. But she did it. And that’s why she’s a success.

Casa de Bandini was established in Carlsbad, in a shopping center called The Forum. It is a mile or so east of Highway 5 and is home to a good selection of upscale stores. The building is large, with spaces for private parties, and has outdoor patios on several sides. Flooring is made of large tile pavers. Chair cushions are embroidered with exciting patterns. Decorative art is featured on the walls and doorways. Ornamental plates, jars, pots and fabrics blaze with color. Beamed ceilings enhance the “south of the border” feel. A large, carved bar with twinkling bottles and glassware lies against a far wall. Powers has a legendary eye for detail and all her restaurants are filled with items that create interest and ambiance to each setting.

Diane Powers helped bring arts and culture to Old Town.

Diane Powers helped bring arts and culture to Old Town.

Powers is as meticulous with her cuisine as she is with her decor. She and her chefs use and modify old classic recipes. They do extensive taste testing until each dish is just right. The menu features the best and freshest ingredients. It reflects what is available seasonally. In fact, a new seasonal menu for the summer will be introduced shortly.

The full menu is very extensive — something for everybody — and offers traditional Mexican dishes, “healthy dining” selections, a gluten free menu, seafood specialty dishes and even breakfast until 2 p.m.

Nachos supremo, crisp tortilla chips and tasty fresh guacamole, are terrific as appetizers while enjoying a relaxing drink before dinner. Salads, ensaladas, can be either starters or whole meals. The Bandini Chicken and Avocado Salad, in particular, is a large portion of greens, avocado, egg and chicken in a large flour tortilla shell.

There is a whole menu of steak (carne asada), served in a variety of ways, in tacos, burritos and combination dishes. There is a similar menu of enchiladas, served with a variety of fillings and combinations. Try Enchiladas Huastecas to sample both meat and chicken and two types of salsa, verde and roja, topped with sour cream.

The “healthy free” dishes are lighter while still wonderfully tasty. A calorie count is printed on the menu to help planning. Whichever menu is looked at, portions are large and filling.
Prices are extremely moderate, given the ambiance, entertainment, quality of food and portion size. It is a great location for summer family dining.

Is Diane Powers successful? Well, she’s about to celebrate her fifth anniversary at this location. So you be the judge.
Casa de Bandini is located at The Forum Shopping Center, 1901 Calle Barcelona in Carlsbad. Call (760) 634-3443 for information and directions.

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Business, Local News

About the Author ()