LIVING IN THE CITY: Always On The Move

Joyce Lu lives in the Marina District, works at The Westgate Hotel and takes full advantage of downtown San Diego’s offerings
Joyce Lu and Jeff Hoza getting around downtown San Diego in a FRED shuttle. (Courtesy photo)

“Living In the City” is the San Diego Sun’s feature Q&A with downtown San Diego residents. It’s a way to get to know the city by meeting the people who live here. This is number 33 in an ongoing series.

Name: Joyce Lu

Location: Columbia Place in the Marina District

Personal deets: I’m from Anaheim. Been in downtown San Diego eight years (seven in East Village, one year in the Marina District). I live with my boyfriend Jeff Hoza.

Professional deets: Been Director of Sales and Catering for The Westgate Hotel for 1.5 years. Also volunteer on the boards of the San Diego City Center Business Improvement District and Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) San Diego. Previously, I’ve worked at the Omni San Diego, The Westin Gaslamp, The US GRANT, and the former W San Diego.

Why downtown: Moved here from Boca Raton (FL) after working there for three years. Missed my downtown lifestyle in Boston, where I’d lived for nine years. San Diego closely mirrors Boston with its neighborhood pockets, just smaller.

Pets: JJ is a 7-and-a-half-year-old mixed breed. We met him seven years ago at an adoption event at Quartyard in East Village.

JJ is being a good boy at Quartyard. (Courtesy photo)

Best aspect of your condo: Clean and quiet pocket of downtown; accessibility to restaurants, entertainment, water views and public transportation (trolley, Coaster/Amtrak and ferry)

Worst aspect of your condo: Quiet. We’ve met fewer people compared to East Village, where we met all of our community of friends.

Best reason to live downtown: Accessibility, options and so much potential to be a very vibrant downtown in the recovery after the pandemic.

Worst part of living downtown: Homelessness. Just be vigilant. FYI: It was scarier when I lived in downtown Boston.

Transportation breakdown: I don’t own a car, so 80% of my getting around is walking. I’ll borrow my boyfriend’s car on days I work late.

Parking advice: Be patient, find secure lots, or spend the money with a hotel valet. Or, take advantage of the public transportation options. And, San Diego Downtown Partnership’s Clean & Safe team has safety ambassadors you can call to walk you to your car or home in downtown!

The Westgate Hotel. Check out the daily lunch specials. (Facebook)

Lunch:  If I’m craving amazing restaurant quality food, The Westgate Hotel’s restaurant (The Westgate Room) has fantastic daily lunch specials. The specials on Wednesday (hamburger) and Friday (poke bowl) are the best. If I have time to take a quick walk, by proximity and efficiency I go to Grab & Go Subs on C Street, Thai Time or Tacos El Gordo.

Dinner: There are so many great places:

  • The Neighborhood in East Village (caviar bumps, steak tartare, the Young American burger and you can make the fries animal-style–like In-N-Out).
  • The Lion’s Share in the Marina District (Boar Bolognese and fabulous cocktails).
  • Mike Hess Brewing in Seaport Village (great fish tacos with bay views).
  • Ironside Fish & Oyster (lobster rolls and cocktails in Little India).
  • Cowboy Star in East Village (banana “pudding” and old-fashioned cocktails). 
  • Crack Shack in Little Italy (chicken oysters and all their cocktails are delish).
  • BASIC Pizza in East Village (mashed potato, bacon and ricotta cheese pizza; plus great salads).

Bar(s): Again, so many. We love to take JJ with us to meet all our friends (and dog friends) at Quartyard. Plus: The Lion’s Share, Cowboy Star, Crack Shack, Ironside, Coco Maya, Knotty Barrel, BASIC, Wolfie’s Carousel Bar, Starlite.

Brunch/breakfast spot(s): My favorite meal of the day! I look forward to it on the weekends at The Mission East Village, Café 222 (Marina District), Café 21 (Gaslamp Quarter) and Spill the Beans (Seaport Village).

Spill The Beans in Seaport Village.

Scariest moment: Five years ago, I was walking to work in the morning from East Village to the Westin Gaslamp. An angry man stormed out of 7-Eleven in the Gaslamp and swiped at my hair a few times with a stick. Thankfully, he didn’t hurt me but it was a reminder to be vigilant. One scary incident in eight years is a nice low ratio.

Padres: I love all the food and drinks options at Petco Park. Where else can you get Din Tai Fung pork buns, Cardiff Crack Nachos (at Seaside Market), and Puesto tacos/burritos with craft beer all at the same time?

Cost of living: It’s relative. Everyone can find something in their price range.

Favorite downtown memory: Quartyard anniversary parties are like reunions with all of our friends.

We need: A trolley line to the airport; and to infuse downtown with more business.

Final word: Was hesitant to share but…you can use the Circuit (FRED) app to get around downtown for free in an electric shuttle. Tip the drivers. SDSun


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