Tag Archives: Grand Opening

FedEx Grand Opening

Normally grand openings are celebrated close to when a business opens, but in this case FedEx has been open for a while.  But this is still going to be a celebration, complete with the #11 FedEx car from NASCAR.  The big day is Wednesday, February 10, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm with the ribbon cutting at 11:30 am.

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Smokin’ Joe’s Opens in Santee


Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue had its Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, January 30, from 2:00-9:00 pm, and it was one busy day for everyone.  The restaurant is located in the Home Depot/Hometown Buffet section of the Town Center, in the same corner spot as two previous eateries.  From the looks of things, this one should be around for the long haul.  Smokin’ Joe Jones himself was on hand to cut the ribbon, greet people, and make sure everything was cooked just right.  I even found out what an “Old Fashion Pig Pick’n” is – but more on that later.

This is the third Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue in the San Diego area (the others are in Poway and San Diego).  The restaurants have been around for a few years, but Smokin’ Joe’s barbecue style goes back some 60 years to his grandfather and grandmother in Mississippi, where he would help prepare the meats and baste them with the ‘secret’ sauce his grandfather made.  Joe proudly boasts that his special recipe won’t burn on the grill like many sauces, because he doesn’t use brown sugar.  Well, whatever it is he does or doesn’t use, it certainly seems like a winner.  During the two hours I was there taking photos of the goings-on, there was barely a moment for the crew to stop and breathe.  It bothered Joe that people had to wait, sometimes as long as 20 minutes, for their food because of the crowd – but no one seemed to mind.  I had the pulled pork plate with barbecued beans and a huge hunk of corn bread, and I can say the wait was definitely worth it.

Now, about that “Old Fashioned Pig Pick’n” mentioned earlier.  This is where a whole pig is cooked in the smoker for several hours until the outside is black and the inside is falling-apart tender.  Then the succulent sow is cut open and the meat is picked out and chopped up for serving.  It was hard to tell what was the bigger draw here, the process of pick’n or the delectable results – but my guess is the samples of pork Joe  handed out.

I had a chance to talk with Joe later in the day after the busiest time was over.  He has some big plans he hopes to be able to do here in Santee, and my guess is that he can pull them off.  I won’t spoil it for now, but let’s just say that Santee could eventually be the biggest name in barbecue west of the Rockies.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The Santee Smokin’ Joe’s Team: (L-R) Roy Landers, Smokin’ Joe Jones, Andy Lott, Joe Lott

Presentation of a Certificate from Assemblyman Joel Anderson’s Office

Smokin’ Joe Jones Stokes the Smoker with Oak

Santee Chamber of Commerce Members waiting for their orders

Welcome Bouquet from Cookies by Design

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Upcoming Grand Opening – Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue

This Saturday, January 30, the new Smokin’ Joe’s Barbecue will hold its grand opening ceremonies, beginning with a ribbon cutting at 2:00 pm and continuing until 9:00 pm.  There will be games, prizes, drawings for Smokin’ Joe’s barbecue sauce, and an “Old Fashion Pig Pick’n” – whatever that is.  I’ll be there to get some pictures so we’ll all know what a “pig pick’n” is.

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Italia Ristorante Grand (Re)Opening

On Sunday, January 17, Italia Ristorante celebrated its Grand Opening, complete with the First Annual Italia Ristorante Car Show.  This restaurant has been around for quite some time, but the previous owners had allowed both the food and the service to deteriorate to the point of no return.  That’s when Michael and Ravella Cowhey stepped in and took over.  Since they took hold of the reins last September, there has been a complete turnaround – now they are working to overcome the negative reputation the former owners had built up.  If this celebration was any indication, they are well on the way to doing that.

In addition to improving the quality of the restaurant, the Cowheys are determined to be a vital part of the community, and the Car Show was just a start.  They truly care about Santee and want to do what they can to keep it a great place to live.  The Grand Opening was a chance for Santee to see the changes that have been made, especially in the food.  I had a chance to try slices of the regular cheese and pepperoni pizzas, and enjoyed both.  In addition, they are working to bring Chicago heart and style to Santee with their Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  I also had a slice of that, and I have to say that it is more than a mouthful.  I will definitely be going back in the future.  And no, in accord with new federal guidelines, I did not get any special treatment that wasn’t given to any of the others involved in the event.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Italia Risotrante

L-R: John Morley, Virginia & Ronn Hall, Miss Santee – Sierra Billock, Miss Santee Teen – Nicole Ehlke, Santee Councilman John Minto, Ravenna Cowhey, Terry Harris (back), Aramis & Dartanian Cowhey, Michael Cowhey, Thomas Hootman, Sam Jajo, Chamber President John Olsen, Councilman Brian Jones, Rob McNelis (I could not find a picture showing the man behind Sam Jajo, nor did I get his name)

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Warren Savage presents a proclamation from the State of California

Dave Stall of 1170 KCBQ brought his So Cal Off Road Radio show to the celebration

Former Chamber of Commerce President Rob McNelis (at right, with DJ Dennis J) brought his OneStop Party People to provide music for the day

Inside the Sport Bar section


The First Annual Italia Ristorante Car Show


For more Car Show pictures, click here.

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Old Friends in New Places – A JoyfulNess Mercantile Grand Opening

Some of my long-time readers (I hope there are a few of those) or readers of my 2009 wrap-up posts may remember the grand opening last April of SewCalCuties, an eclectic craft store out on Business Route 8.  In less than a year owner Pamela Joy saw her fortunes drop, nearly leaving the area, then rise again when the then-owners of the Apple Crate approached her about selling their location.  That resulted in the creation, with partner Vickie Ness, of A JoyfulNess Mercantile in the former Apple Crate building.  To fans of the Crate, don’t worry – the shop has become part of the co-op that includes the former SewCalCuties, At the Beehive, Chictiques Antiques, and over 30 individual vendors.

According to Pamela, this is the best thing that could have happened to her business.  She now has a larger space in a well-known location, and no longer has to deal with the problem of looking like a converted office – which the original store was.  Plus, with the addition of the other businesses and new vendors, craft and antique shoppers have an all-in-one destination to head for.

Members of the Santee Chamber of Commerce, Miss Santee Teen Nicole Ehlke, and Santee Princess Michelle were on hand for the festivities.  As part of the celebration, cake designer RaNae Thomas created a ‘crafty’ cake and letter cupcakes to welcome the new business operations.  Below are some pictures from the event.

Shopping at A JoyfulNess Mercantile

Miss Santee Teen and Princess check out The Beehive

Cake Designer RaNae Thomas

Cake and Cupcakes

A JoyfulNess Mercantile is located next to The Big Red Barn on Business Route 8, Near Los Coches Rd.

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Upcoming Grand Openings for January 2010


This weekend the Santee Chamber of Commerce will be doing two grand opening celebrations for member businesses. The first will be Saturday, January 16, when A JoyfulNess Mercantile cuts the ribbon at 1:45 pm. The shop is located at 13227 B Highway 8 Business on the east side of El Cajon. The second ceremony is on Sunday, January 17, as Italia Ristorante (8918 Carlton Hills Blvd) celebrates its reopening after an ownership change and remodeling. The festivities  kick off at 12:00 pm and the ribbon cutting is at 12:30 pm. This is a big event, with refreshments and Dave Stall of 1170AM broadcasting from noon until 2:00 pm.

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2009, A Santee Review – Part 4

We have gone back over 2009 in chunks: first January through April, then May and June, and last July through September. And now, at long last, we reach the final months of the year.

The first event I covered in October was the monthly Chamber of Commerce After-5 Mixer, this time at Pinnacle Peak Steak House. This restaurant has been in Santee for many years, and has built a reputation on their food – which is quite delicious. For the Mixer they set out some of their pork ribs and signature baked beans, along with other goodies. It was one of the best-attended Mixers I’ve seen.

The main event for the month was the annual Chamber Awards Night, this year held at Barona Resort and Casino. This is an opportunity to recognize the people and businesses that help make Santee a special place to live. Among the recipients in 2009 were Ronn Hall Insurance as Small Business of the Year, GTM General Discount Store as Medium Business of the Year, and Barona Resort and Casino as Large Business of the Year. There was also special recognition for Santee’s two adopted USMC units: 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines from Camp Pendleton and Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 from Miramar MCAS.

Other posts for October included previews and promotions for the CYT East production of Bridge to Terebithia, a Chamber Business Partnership presentation, Grossmont Center’s Shop for a Cure to support the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Breast Health Navigator Program, and the Auction Stampede 2009 fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County.

November featured two grand openings. The first was Aloha Pet Grooming, located on the west side of Santee; the second opening was Nutrition Zone in the Vons Center. Both are on Mission Gorge Road. Both of these were very well attended, and showed the feeling of community and support Santee has for new businesses. A very special event, although I didn’t get a post up until December, was a fundraiser held at Philippi’s Pizza for a young Santee girl severely injured in an auto accident.

Also in November was the annual Santee Pancake Breakfast to support Santee Santas. This event is held at Fire Station 4 and is hosted by the Santee Firefighters and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. The Firefighters cook, the Deputies serve, and the community gets involved both as donors and sponsors and as hungry guests. All proceeds go toward helping struggling families in Santee.

December kicked off with a preview of the annual Taste of Santee Mixer, then went back to cover two important November events. The first of these was the fundraiser at Philippi’s Pizza Grotto to help the family of Jordyn Niemiec, who was severely inured in an auto accident in October. The event was coordinated by a wonderful group of family and friends who call themselves Team Jordyn, Philippi’s donated a room and a percentage of proceeds, and host duties were shared by local radio personality Clint August and businessman/DJ Thomas Hootman. People came literally from all over East County to help this little girl and her family, donating a total of nearly $8,000.

The other big November event I wrote about in December was the annual Holiday Lighting Celebration at Santee Trolley Square. The Celebration always includes music, community booths, carriage rides, and the lighting of the tree on the amphitheater stage. This year’s entertainment featured Singing Solo and the U.S. Navy Band Southwest Brass Quintet. Even though the overall event was a bit lower-key than the previous year’s, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

December’s big event was the annual Taste of Santee Mixer, which raises funds, food, and toys for Santee Santas. Union Bank in the CVS/Best Buy Center hosts this evening, which brings together restaurants and other food businesses with Chamber members and other community members. Among the dignitaries attending were Mayor Randy Voepel, Councilmember John Minto, Chamber CEO Warren Savage, and incoming Chamber President John Olsen.

Just before the holiday school break, the Lakeside Middle School Show Choir performed a selection of holiday songs at the Trolley Square Amphitheater. The Lakeside Farms Elementary School choir joined the older kids in sharing the musical fun. Other stories I covered in December were a DUI checkpoint conducted by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the planned closure of SR-67 for construction, and the demolition of the old Edgemoor Hospital facilities. Finally, I started off a new Business Spotlight with a post on Prestige Beauty Supply.

This brings us to the end of 2009 – a year with its share of bad news, but still a lot of positives for Santee. January 2010 will bring us new challenges as well as new opportunities to show just what it is that makes this city special. The first event of the year will be the annual Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner for the new officers. I also plan to continue On Food Patrol and Business Spotlight, and I plan to kick off a Meet Your Neighbor series to introduce you to some of the people who make Santee special.

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