Growing up in the late 70s, I remember listening to my parents’ Jim Croce cassette tape. This Greatest Hits edition was worn out in our household as it was passed between the stereo inside and tape deck in the Toyota Corolla where it survived the cold winters of Colorado.
When I was still young, I remember learning that Jim Croce had died in a plane crash. I listened to his music for several years, hoping to someday meet this iconic musician. Then one day someone pointed out he left the world years earlier.
Throughout the years, Croce remained in my catalog of all-time favorite musicians, but knowing he was gone, I never put much effort into learning more about what became of his wife Ingrid and his family. Then, in 2012, my wife and I stopped by Croce’s restaurant in San Diego, California.
The minute I walked in, I was taken back by the warm ambience — and while it may come across as a touch corny, I must say that anyone who stepped into its doors could tell it was built on love — love for people, fellowship, music and for Jim himself.
As Jim Croce’s former wife Ingrid explains:
After searching the Gaslamp for a while, we crossed to the corner of Fifth and F, and Jim said to me, ‘Ing, we’re just gonna have to build our own restaurant and invite our friends like James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, Bonnie Raitt and Arlo Guthrie to play here.’
After 12 years of brutal music business litigation, a friend called to show me the Keating Building on the corner of Fifth and F, the very same corner where Jim and I had stopped 12 years before. I recognized it as an omen and I knew I needed to build a restaurant with live music right here, in his memory.
I learned recently from Croce’s website that the restaurant will be closing its doors after all these years. The good news is that Croce’s will go on elsewhere, but I’m sure for the Croce family and the locals, this will be a loss.