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Resident and business owner Laura Ambrose is positive about Pacific Beach

Laura Ambrose has lived in Pacific Beach since 1991.
(B.J. Coleman)

Laura Ambrose is positive about living and doing business in Pacific Beach.

“There’s an overall happiness about beach area living,” Ambrose said.

She would know about that. Ambrose has lived along the San Diego coast since 1980. After eight years in Mission Beach and four years in the Windansea area, Ambrose moved to PB in 1991.

“I was young and single, and I enjoyed the PB lifestyle,” Ambrose explained. “I think PB is still a mecca for young people.”

Laura and Jeff Ambrose were married in 1993 and brought up their two sons here.

The couple bought the Woodstock’s Pizza business from the founding Chuck Woodstock family in 2001. Jeff had been president of the company for 11 years at that point. The company has eight restaurants throughout California, with two in San Diego County. The first California Woodstock’s restaurant dates to 1980 in San Luis Obispo. The College area Woodstock’s opened in 1985.

And the business-owner couple brought the second San Diego Woodstock’s Pizza close to home in 2011, opening a Garnet Avenue restaurant. Woodstock’s business offices are located on Turquoise Street.

What are some aspects of her business that distinguish Woodstock’s from other pizza restaurants?

“I am confident that we are good employers,” Ambrose said. “We operate with integrity. And I know that love wins.”

Woodstock’s employs almost 600 workers. “We have good people,” Ambrose continued. “And we are getting our team back.” (Ambrose was referring to the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns that have plagued business owners in attracting new employees and rehiring former workers.)

“Back in the day, at first we tried to compete with the national pizza chains on prices,” Ambrose added. The business owner couple abandoned that business model soon. “We offer quality and value, but price not so much. We offer a better product.

“We have expanded our dining spaces, so that people can get together and enjoy time together,” Ambrose added. “This is one of our unique selling points.”

Tastes change. How has the Woodstock’s menu kept current for its clientele?

“We do offer healthy alternatives.” But Ambrose hesitated, stopping there, asking, “Care to guess what is our most ordered item? … Pepperoni pizza on white crust.

“Pizza is a comfort food,” she added.

Woodstock’s newer menu offerings have included more salad options. Other cuisines have influenced pizza toppings too.

“We have the Kickin’ Carnitas Pizza, we had a Banh Pizza and in response to customer requests we are bringing back our Street Taco Pizza,” Ambrose said.

“Local residents are our core customers. We also get ‘local’ tourists and out-of-area tourists,” Ambrose explained. The restaurant gets lots of business from Campland, from beach hotels and vacation rentals. “People don’t like to cook when they are on vacation.”

With costs skyrocketing the last few months, Ambrose noted the likelihood of raising prices. “We may need to increase wages, and the cost of ingredients has gone up,” she said.

What changes has Ambrose noticed in the local business climate?

“We have a healthy economy here,” Ambrose said. “I have seen an evolution in local retail. I go out of my way to shop local. I love the mom-and-pop businesses. But the urban core of PB revolves around restaurants and bars.”

She added, “People often tell me they’d like to own a restaurant. I say, don’t get into the restaurant business unless you’re willing to cook 12 hours a day. Doing this single-handedly, you will burn out. You will need to be a manager, not a doer. That’s why we hire good people.”

How about changes in PB?

“I think PB has not changed that much at all. If anything, PB has changed for the better. Look at our beautiful Taylor Library. Look at how the middle school has been improved recently.”

Ambrose went on to describe her experience as a young mother deciding to send her sons to local schools.

“I am a big advocate for PB schools,” Ambrose said, “and we’ve seen a huge improvement.”

Does she have a vision for other improvements in PB?

“I’d love to see improving Garnet Avenue. I’d like to see it become a one-way street, with a designated bike lane and more landscaping,” Ambrose replied.

Are there elements in her life that people might find unexpected?

Ambrose became thoughtful and began listing her responses. “I love to travel.

“Our faith is important to us. I teach an alpha course at my church on ‘Questions of Life,’ once weekly over 10 weeks.

“I like true crime books, that’s my quirk.

“I don’t eat meat, so others in the company have to do taste tests.

“I love to garden.

“And family is important to us. My father lives here. Jeff’s mother lives here. We’ve considered moving from California, but so much of our family lives in Southern California.”


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