There is an underutilized place in PETCO Park. A place where beer flows and food is served. A place where history comes to life.
Dare I say it, a magical place.
Right about now you’re probably thinking I’m talking about the Hall of Fame Bar & Grill in the Western Metal Supply Company building. You would be wrong.
I’m talking about Club 19 on the Toyota Terrace level in Section 217. Pretty much exactly due East of the Hall of Fame Bar & Grill on the map of PETCO Park.
Club 19 has been there since the ballpark opened in 2004. For years, the only way you could get access to it is if you had a ticket for the Toyota Terrace. But, with that restriction lifted two years ago, now it’s open to all.
This tweet came across my feed a few days after the passing of Tony Gwynn:
— pmelendo62@gmail com (@pmelendo62) June 19, 2014
I almost responded that Club 19 already exists, but decided against it at the time. Because I wasn’t sure if it did. I hadn’t been in there in years. So, when I went to the game on June 22nd I decided to check it out once again.
My friend and I got there before first pitch and I was surprised to see it almost completely empty. There were a couple of people sitting at the bar and just a couple of tables but for the most part it was empty.
For those who haven’t been there, Club 19 is a full-service bar and restaurant named for Tony Gwynn. The decor is all-Gwynn, all the time. Right inside the door is a huge display featuring Gwynn’s 8 Silver Slugger awards (See first picture). Silhouettes of Gwynn grace the window facing inside the ballpark. As you walk in, you see a display case with all of Tony’s Gold Glove awards on the opposite wall from the door. Over the bar there are photos of Tony batting and diving for balls in right field at Jack Murphy/Qualcomm Stadium.
While there isn’t any sort of view of the field, Club 19 makes a good pregame — or postgame — stop. Because like all of the bars in PETCO Park, it stays open to serve drinks for an hour after the game ends.
Framed jerseys from the span of Gwynn’s career grace the wall next to the Gold Glove display case.
The restaurant’s menu is different from the standard ballpark fare. Chorizo corn dogs. Shrimp and sweet corn fritters. Truffle fries. Beef short ribs.
So, why does it seem like no one knows about this place? Well, the fact that you can’t see the field from there is probably a big reason. But I blame the eight years of exclusivity of the Toyota Terrace. If you were not sitting on that level, you could not access it.
Now that the bars and restaurants on the Toyota Terrace are open to all, there’s no excuse. Get in there and check it out. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s good food available. And the memorabilia by itself should be enough of a reason to warrant a quick visit, at the very least.
Don’t do it for me, though.
Do it for Number 19.
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