Sweet Treats Truck Stop Opens in Rancho Penasquitos

Sweet Treats Truck Stop Opens in Rancho Penasquitos

The Sweet Treats Truck Stop recently parked in Rancho Penasquitos and has been welcomed to the community with open arms! If there’s one thing the community has been lacking, it’s a dessert café stocked with delicious, sweet treats. I sat down with Jennifer Saint, who owns the Sweet Treats Truck Stop with her husband, Chris, to get the inside scoop on their new shop.

Jennifer and Chris have owned and operated the Sweet Treats Dessert Catering Trucks since 2008, but decided to open a physical storefront after looking for somewhere to manufacture their Wicked Licks bars. They decided to open a location in Rancho Penasquitos since they live in the area.

The Sweet Treats Truck Stop offers a variety of delectable menu items. Sweet Treats sources a lot of their desserts from small, local bakeries. On any given day, you can walk in and enjoy treats from their dessert display case that represent the work of four to five local bakers. Jennifer explained that it helps the bakers get their signature product out to the world and helps them grow their own business – we absolutely love seeing this type of community support on Off the 56!

The most popular item on the dessert menu is their cookie shots, which consist of a cookie “shot glass” with a shot of milk inside. So you can have your milk and cookie at the same time! Other popular items on the menu include the decadent stuffed cookies, which are made by Seaside Sweets. Currently, there’s a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with a brownie, a funfetti cookie stuffed with a Fruity Pebble rice krispy treat, and a red velvet cookie stuffed with a brownie…this is definitely what sweet dreams are made of! They also have other items on the menu like apple streusel rolls, flourless chocolate cake, and more.

But the main attraction at the Sweet Treats Truck Stop is definitely the Wicked Licks bars. Based on the old 50/50 dream bars, Jennifer said their goal was to take the concept and elevate it with better flavors. They offer gelato, sorbetto, and a 50/50 gelato sorbetto bar. To order, you start by picking the flavor bar you want and then you can pick the dip, drizzle, dusting, and toppings you want to create your own custom dessert! Mango sorbetto is one of their most popular flavors and they currently have a limited edition cotton candy gelato flavor. They also offer classic choices like strawberry, peanut butter, chocolate, raspberry, and more.

The Sweet Treats Truck Stop is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12-8pm in the Rancho Penasquitos Town Center off Black Mountain Road. You can learn more about the shop and book their dessert catering trucks for your next event by visiting their website here. And make sure you give them a follow on Facebook and Instagram to see the latest treats!

Have you been to the Truck Stop yet? Leave me a comment below with your favorite item on the menu. I’m already looking forward to making a return trip! Maybe I need to do a dessert challenge like my coffee shop challenge – what do you think?

Best Dog Walker & Pet Sitter in PQ

Best Dog Walker & Pet Sitter in PQ

A few weeks ago I sat down with the owner of Jen loves Pets, Jennifer Taylor. Jen Loves Pets is a local dog walking & pet sitting services which is located right here off the 56 in Rancho Penasquitos.

Jen started the company while spending time with her own dog at the Rancho Penasquitos Dog Park contemplating what was next for her in life after she had to leave her corporate job due to health reasons. After some thought, Jen started researching dog walking & pet sitting. She started the company herself back in April of 2010 and almost 9 years later, she has 8 employees and services an 8 mile radius of Rancho Penasquitos. Jen has an amazing outlook on life and even with her health issues she has been able to do what she loves and help her community at the same time.

She has some amazing reviews on Yelp & NEXTDOOR (which is where I found her). She confidently claims not to be the cheapest option but she is confident you won’t find a better team around. She credits everything to the amazing team she has surrounded herself with and she couldn’t do it without them. Each team member goes thru an exhaustive, hands-on training with the entire JLP team including the owner; Jennifer Taylor a Pet CPR & First Aid Instructor and a Certified Professional Pet Sitter

If you are in need of dog walking & pet sitting services in the future, look no further then Jen Loves Pets. You can find them online at JenLovesPets.com or on their facebook page, Jen Loves Pets.

Mason Ale Works Tasting Room and Kitchen Comes to Carmel Valley

Mason Ale Works Tasting Room and Kitchen Comes to Carmel Valley

We’re kicking off the New Year here on Off the 56 by taking you inside one of the newest craft brew tasting rooms in the Carmel Valley area, Mason Ale Works Tasting Room and Kitchen. They are located in the new Merge Carmel Valley shopping center, which is on the corner of Carmel County Road and Carmel Mountain Road. I stopped by recently and got the inside scoop from Brett Preston, the General Manager of Mason Ale Works.

Established in 2015, Mason Ale Works started as a brewery dedicated to creating truly artisan craft beer. Their research brewery is located in Oceanside at Urge Gastropub & Whiskey Bank while their production brewery is at Urge Gastropub & Common House in San Marcos. Their tasting room in Carmel Valley is their first satellite location. When searching for a spot for the new tasting room they felt that Carmel Valley was incredibly underserved as far as having a place like this.

The team at Mason Ale Works wanted to create a casual, family-friendly spot where families could go to enjoy a delicious meal while parents sampled some high-quality craft brews. It’s also a great casual spot to go to watch the game on TV or play foosball. They also have an outdoor patio, which makes it a great place to play some cornhole and enjoy the wonderful San Diego weather.

Mason Ale Works in Carmel Valley offers twenty beers on draft, an expansive whiskey selection including single barrel whiskey, beer for purchase, a full liquour selection, and a full food menu under The Barrel Room Carmel Valley. Their entrée menu includes things like pizza, sandwiches, and entrée salads. You can also order small bites, meat and cheese boards, and dessert. They also like to test new beer concepts and brew small batches so when you come to Mason Ale Works, you should be able to always try something new! Click here to check out their current food menu and draft list.

Brett told me their most popular beer on tap is their Jambi IPA and poured me a pint to try. I also got to sample a few of their most popular menu items from the kitchen, the Fried Chicken Sandwich and the Roasted Mushroom Pizza. Everything I tried was fantastic!

If you are a local business in the area, The Barrel Room also has the space to accommodate parties, happy hour events, business presentations, networking groups, and more. Click here to contact Mason Ale Works about hosting your next event in Carmel Valley.

Mason Ale Works Tasting Room and Kitchen in Carmel Valley is open 4-9pm Monday through Thursday and 11:30am-10pm Friday and Saturday. On Sunday they are open from 11:30am-9pm.

Got a tip on a new business opening Off the 56 or know a local business that would love to be featured? Click here to contact me!

Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant Del Sur – Now Open!

Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant Del Sur – Now Open!


You’ll remember that we interviewed Ponce Meza, the owner of Ponce’s, and Mikey Knab, the director of operations for the Meza Family Restaurant Group, on Off the 56 earlier this year about their planned expansion to North County San Diego. I decided to pay them another visit to see how things have been going since they opened Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant in Del Sur a few weeks ago. And of course, I had to try the food!

From the moment they opened, Ponce’s has been poppin! Both Ponce and Mikey agreed they’ve been way busier than they thought they’d be. The Del Sur community has really embraced the new establishment and they’ve also been getting visitors from the neighboring communities of Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, and Del Mar.

The new Ponce’s location is already nearly as busy as their Kensington spot, which has been a neighborhood fixture since 1969. Like their location in Kensington, Ponce’s serves a menu of traditional Mexican food complimented by a large list of agave spirits, cocktails, beer, wine, and margaritas. Click here to check out the full menu.

While the street taco combos have been a top seller at both locations, because Ponce’s Del Sur is attracting new clientele, people are ordering all over the menu and trying things out. When I met with Ponce and Mikey, I sampled the Ponce’s Special (their version of a taco salad) and the Camarones Ala Diabla (spicy shrimp plate). Both items are among their most popular dishes and both were absolutely delicious. And of course, I had to wash it down with a margarita!

I think Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant is a great addition to our Off the 56 community and I wish them many years of success!

I’ve also been getting a lot of questions from you guys so I made sure to ask Ponce and Mikey about a couple things while I was there:

They do have a Happy Hour! It’s every day from 4-6pm and 9pm-close. During Happy Hour, you can get a House Margarita for just $5 and all beers are $1-2 off. And they are now taking reservations for parties of six of more. But make sure you call and make a reservation before 4pm on the day you want to come!

Know another restaurant or local business that’s opening in our area? Drop me a line – I’m looking forward to making Off the 56 even better in 2019 and continuing to be your go-to resource for everything happening in our community!

Ponce’s Mexican expanding to Del Sur

Ponce’s Mexican expanding to Del Sur

Ponce's Mexican

Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, a staple of the Kensington neighborhood of San Diego for nearly 50 years, will be opening up its second location in Del Sur. It will replace Waypoint Public, which (unfortunately) didn’t seem to be quite the right fit for the neighborhood.

Many viewers of Off the 56 are quite excited about Ponce’s opening a second location in North County so I interviewed Ponce Meza, the owner of Ponce’s, and Mikey Knab, the director of operations for the Meza Family Restaurant Group, to learn more about their plans for the Del Sur spot.

Ponce Meza (PM): Ponce’s got its start in 1969. My father worked at a restaurant in Ocean Beach (OB) called Nati’s and that’s where he learned his restaurant chops. In  1969, my godfather made my father an offer he couldn’t refuse to open up the restaurant in Kensington. About fifteen years ago, my sister, Rocio, and I took it over.

Mikey Knab (MK): Our friend owned Waypoint Public in Del Sur. His name’s John, he went to high school with Ponce. They’ve been friends for a long time. But this area wasn’t the right fit for Waypoint so John was looking to put someone in the space that would thrive. He had the idea, and I hope he’s right, that our brand would be a really good fit for this community.

Bern McGovern (BM): Now, the menu prices in Kensington are pretty reasonable. Are they going to stay pretty consistent here as well?

​PM: Yeah, I think so. I mean we’ve got to keep up with inflation if we can. But so far, our plan is to plug and play. So what we’re doing down there, we’re going to bring up here.

MK: If you have a favorite thing at Ponce’s Kensington, you will be able to get it here. Especially in the first year, anything we make down there, we’ll make here. And the prices are going to stay the same. On opening day, it’s going to be the exact same prices. I’m not even designing a new menu. We’re just going to print the one we already have so it’s consistent.


MK: Waypoint had its color scheme so it’s got teal, blue, and white and ours is just kind of a lot more.

BM: More colorful.

MK: Get the bigger box of crayons out.

BM: Nice. Tell me about the menu and what you guys serve.

PM: You should know, people love our chile rellenos, so those are one of the favorites. We have a chicken enchilada dish that sells a lot every day. There’s also the enchilada suizas.

MK: And it’s comfort food. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel and we’re not trying to serve you things you can’t pronounce. A lot of times folks ask, “What would you order if you could only eat here one more time?” And it doesn’t sound exciting, but I would get a ground beef taco, a cheese enchilada, and rice and beans. It’s comfort food. And that would be what I would eat tonight if I were eating at Ponce’s.

MK: We want to make it look like a Ponce’s so what that means is we’re going to make it look a little less pristine. It’s going to be a lot more colors.

PM: We want to make it look like our Kensington location with that modern twist.

BM: A more traditional Mexican feel to it.

PM: Yeah. So if you go down to our restaurant in Kensington, there will be elements of that here. We want to do a wall of women on one side. And then where we have our bar in Kensington, we have a pretty big back bar wooden piece that has all of our tequila displayed. So we’re planning to do the same thing here with our focus being more on tequila and margaritas.

BM: Ok. And your target open date for Ponce’s Del Sur is when?

PM: We’re looking at early October. We’re hoping to do soft openings around that time so for those of you out there who are interested in coming to the soft opening, visit our Facebook page and let us know that there’s interest. We have limited space, but-

BM: Can I sign up right now?

MK: [Laughs] Yes you can sign up right now. There will be media days, too. And we are hiring so depending on when this goes out, we need to hire about forty people. All positions: kitchen, front of the house, bars, servers, hosts, and food runners. They can email me to apply.

BM: Great! Well I speak for hopefully everyone that we’re all really excited for you guys to move in here and hopefully I’ll be one of your regulars.

Keeping prices the same as at the Del Sur location, should help Ponce’s fit right in with the other tenants in the Del Sur Town Center. The Del Sur Town Center is located off Camino Del Sur and the other restaurant tenants include Piacere Mio, Gor Gai Thai Eatery, Ototo Sushi, and Board & Brew. Ponce’s Del Sur is targeting an October 8th opening date as long as there aren’t too many surprises along the way.

The menu in Del Sur will mainly consist of traditional Mexican food complimented by a large list of agave spirits, cocktails, beer, wine, and, of course, margaritas. If you’ve never been to Ponce’s in Kensington, you can preview the menu for the Del Sur location by visiting their website here. And unlike the Kensington location, Ponce’s in Del Sur will be open on Sundays and they plan to serve bottomless mimosas!

If you or anyone you know is looking for restaurant work in the Del Sur area, please contact Mikey at mikey [@] poncesrestaurant.com

Know another local business that is opening Off the 56? Or an organization in the community that would love to be featured on the channel? Let me know – I am always looking for new people to interview on Off the 56!

Knotty Barrel Gastropub coming to Rancho Penasquitos

Knotty Barrel Gastropub coming to Rancho Penasquitos

Recently I visited the owner of a new restaurant going in Off the 56, Knotty Barrel Gastropub. It will be opening in the old Café 56 location in the Rancho Penasquitos Town Center off Black Mountain Road. The previous tenant, Café 56, vacated that spot about 3 years ago and the space has been empty ever since. Locals have said whatever has gone in the spot never lasts. But I like to believe whatever has gone in the spot was never very good in the first place.

Knotty Barrel has been a staple of the East Village neighborhood of Downtown San Diego for many years and this will be their second location. They have gathered quite a following over the past few years, earning over 600+ Yelp reviews. They feature locally sourced food and a selection of over 100 local, domestic and imported beers from around the world, including over twenty craft beers on tap. They pride themselves on partnering with local farmers and vendors to provide their guests with the freshest ingredients possible.

I met with the owner, Ken Lovi, who took some time to walk me around and share a little bit about his vision for the restaurant:

​Ken Lovi (KL): My name’s Ken Lovi, I’m the founder and president of Knotty Barrel and we’re at our new location in Rancho Penasquitos. We had a few different options when it came to opening a second location in San Diego. We were looking at locations in Encinitas and 4S Ranch and then somebody told me about this location. We came, looked at it, and once we compared it to the other two, we liked this location the best.

We liked the demographics, thought the amount of nearby residents was great, and felt there was somewhat of a lack of sit down restaurants in the area. We loved the patio obviously. We’re going to be opening up a little bit of the front, but still keeping the left and right French doors. The center French doors will open up and that will be the beginning of the indoor/outdoor bar. We’ll have a new trellis coming out about 20 feet to have patio seating and the new patio will come all the way out to about where you’re standing. We’ll have four fire pits and the fountain will be removed. There will be a new tree in the center of the shopping center. Bern McGovern (BM): So this fountain is gone, you’ll have a big, nice tree–

KL: Tree with grass in around it.

BM: —for shade out here. Okay.

Knotty Barrel Gastropub

​​KL: This will make it good for families with kids. They can play on it, have the giant Connect Fours on it, and different things like that. If you come to our downtown location, we’re also family-friendly there. We have a lot of younger people that live in downtown that are single or just starting their families. They bring their kids with them and we have giant Jenga, we have board games, and we have corn hole. Our locations try to accommodate whole families and singles.BM: You envision it as a place where people can hang out for a little while, not just come, eat, and move along?

KL: Absolutely. We kind of envision this space to be similar to what we have in downtown where it’s not just a place you come, eat, and leave. When you come, you hang out, you meet up with friends, and it’s a place that really belongs to Rancho Penasquitos. The people that live here, this is their place. We plan to entrench ourselves into the community, too. We’ll be participating and working with the local schools for fundraisers, charity events, little leagues, youth soccer. We’ll be sponsoring different activities around here, doing fundraisers, and so forth.

BM: Oh, that’s great.

KL: It’s funny, we didn’t know what to expect when we announced we were opening a location up here and we were absolutely shocked at the response. I didn’t realize how many people 1) knew about us already and 2) how excited people really were.

BM: Yeah. Can we take a look inside real quick?

KL: Sure come on in.

Knotty Barrel Gastropub

​​BM: All right, so I know we’ve got to use our imagination here a little bit here, but can you tell us about what you’ve got planned for this space?

KL: So we came in where the new front entrance will be. As you come in, we’ll have the hostess stand right here to the side. And the center of the room, that’s about where the bar will be. We’ll have booths and more seating throughout. And all the way in the back will be the kitchen. We’re shooting for February 1st to open to the public.

BM: Okay.

KL: Once we do, we’ll be doing a ton of meet and greets that first month, getting to know everyone in the community, inviting people in to check us out, give us a try, and that’s the time that we always ask for a ton of feedback. Please just be honest with us. Tell us what you like, you don’t like, what we can improve on. We’re all ears. Nobody’s perfect, so we’re the last to say we are.

BM: That’s great. My family and everybody here on Off the 56 seems to be super excited about it and we can’t wait for it to happen.

KL: Well thank you and feel free to follow us on Facebook. And again, if anybody has comments, you want to ask questions or anything like that, you can just email us at info [@] knottybarrel.com.

Knotty Barrel Gastropub

​If you’d like to browse the menu at their East Village location to see what you can expect at the new Rancho Penasquitos location, click here. The Knotty Barrel location in the East Village is dog friendly and this establishment will be the same. So they will have a water bowls out and pups will be welcome on the patio.

in my opinion, Knotty Barrel Gastropub, will be a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. Because of Knotty Barrel’s great food, a variety of drinks, a wonderful patio, and even a little room for the kids to run around, this area has lacked something like this for years. I for one am happy to welcome them to the neighborhood!

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