Windmill food hall opening delayed again by building repairs

The long-anticipated opening of the Windmill Food Hall project in Carlsbad has been delayed yet again due to ongoing structural and roof repairs of the building.

Originally scheduled to open last summer, the 12,000-square-foot project inside Carlsbad’s iconic windmill building at Interstate 5 and Palomar Airport Road has faced a series of construction-related setbacks. Windmill Food Hall founder James Markham said he’s now anticipating opening the venue in late January.

When it’s complete, the project at 890 Palomar Airport Road will have 11 food vendor booths, a 52-seat indoor/outdoor bar, lounge and game areas and a stand-alone restaurant in the base of the windmill structure.

Markham leased the ground floor of the two-story, 44,000-square-foot windmill building early this year, anticipating a quick remodel and opening in time for the summer tourist season.

But as his crews began working on the 36-year-old Danish-style building, they uncovered extensive wood rot, water damage, a leaking roof and aging wood structures and fencing that needed to be replaced. The building’s longtime owner, Southwest Carpenters Pension Trust, agreed to make all of the repairs at its own cost, but the repairs has taken longer than anticipated.

Meanwhile, construction on the inside of the food hall is nearly complete and all but one of the vendors have been announced. Most of the vendors Markham and his family discovered while eating their way through all of San Diego County’s street fairs. For some, this will be their first brick-and-mortar location.

The vendors include Bing Haus rolled ice cream; Bread and Cheese grilled sandwiches; Cross Street Chicken & Beer; Lobster West; Taco Lady; Thai-Style Chicken; Notorious Burgers; a Korean hot pot spot; and a Belgian waffle and fries shop.

Markham is also planning to open two of his own restaurant concepts at the hall, Jarfood, where hot savory foods are cooked sous-vide in Mason-style jars, and Crackheads, a quick-service breakfast sandwich eatery.

He’s still looking for one more vendor for the last booth space, though it’s possible he’ll fill the final booth with his latest quick-service pizza concept — a New York-style slice shop that offers gourmet toppings. The Carlsbad entrepreneur made his fortune by inventing a series of pizzeria companies, including Pieology, Project Pie and Mod Pizza.

Once Windmill Food Hall opens, Markham said he hopes it will become a community gathering spot for all ages. There will be old-school Skee-ball, shuffleboard and video games, a quieter book-lined library seating area for adults and, possibly, a play area for children. He’s also planning evening events, like outdoor movies, for adults and will hire local artists for periodic art installations.

The windmill-topped building was constructed in 1982 as the southernmost location of Pea Soup Andersen’s, a cafe/hotel company founded in Buellton in 1924 by Denmark-born restaurateur Anton Andersen.

The property includes the windmill building, a 150-room hotel and a food mart/gas station. The Pea Soup Andersen’s hotel/restaurant closed in 1988. In the 1990s, the hotel was leased by Holiday Inn. It’s now run by RAR Hospitality as the Carlsbad By the Sea Hotel.

The windmill building’s second floor was used for decades as a wedding and banquet hall, but it’s been shuttered for many years except for a small room the hotel now uses for breakfast service. As part of Southwest Carpenter’s renovation, the second floor will be refurbished so it can be used once again for special events.

One element of the windmill building that may not be restored is the windmill itself. The fan blades have not turned for many years. Southwest Carpenters will look into the possibility of repairing the motor and testing the durability of the wood blades, but it may not be financially feasible to repair.

pam.kragen@sduniontribune.com

Copyright © 2019, © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.
58°