LEUCADIA — After a century, the roof of the historic Pannikin Coffee & Tea building that served as the original train station for Encinitas was raised and replaced with new shingles.
The historic building has long been a gathering place for locals and newcomers alike. “There is just something about the place that is very charming,” said Sara Burns, a local resident who stops in at least once a week.
“You don’t just come here for coffee,” she said. “People come here because they are drawn to the energy of the building and its history and maybe they don’t even know it.”
Indeed, the building has been a landmark of the region since it was built in 1887 to accommodate first the Southern Railroad Company that ferried passengers along the California coast. The station served Santa Fe Railroad freight trains after World War II, when the popularity and affordability of the automobile made passenger trains nearly obsolete.
The signature redwood Victorian architecture that was the standard of many buildings in that era has been maintained over the years, as has the yellow façade. “This isn’t your typical Southern California stucco Spanish styled building,” Ben Walker said as he sat outside at one of the benches admiring the building. “It’s very special that we have something like the Pannikin to balance out the newer construction and remind us of what the community was like a hundred years ago,” he said.
The end of the line came in 1969 when the station closed. Like many train stations there was a provision that upon the sale of the property it be moved from its trackside location. In the early 1970s, the Encinitas station was moved from the current Lumberyard shopping center location on the other side of the tracks to 510 N. Coast Highway 101.
The station was apparently bought for $1 from the Santa Fe Railway in the 1970s to become a center for arts and crafts shops. It wasn’t until 1980 that the building took on a new and vibrant life. Bob Sinclair, the founder and owner of the coffeehouse chain in San Diego, took over the spot, converted it and restored the aging building to its original grandeur.
Shawn Holder and his wife Carol bought five of the coffeehouses from Sinclair in 1997. In addition to the Leucadia location, they still own the Del Mar and La Jolla Pannikins.
With on-site baked goods and breakfast and lunch items, the offerings exceed the standard coffeehouse menu. “We’ve been coming here for Sunday coffee after our bike rides for years,” Ted Lessinger said. “There’s no better place to stop and meet friends and relax after a long ride,” he said.
Most customers said they didn’t mind the noise of the roof replacement. “Just because they’re doing a little work doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere else,” Jessica Miers said. “This place is always buzzing and that’s what I like about it.”