‘Marketplace of the world’
For 50 years, Diane Powers has been synonymous with the fun, fiesta-spirit of shopping and dining throughout San Diego County – and her award-winning Casa de Bandini Mexican Restaurant at The Forum in Carlsbad is one of her crown jewels!
The famous restaurant wows guests with its authentic, fresh Mexican cuisine, original giant margaritas and full-service cantina, live entertainment, and colorful décor. It all adds up to fun..FUN..FUN!
Created and opened by Diane in 1980 in the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Casa de Bandini was inspired by Juan Bandini.
As one of early California’s first Dons, Bandini was known for his elegant and welcoming parties, with his home becoming the social center of Mexican colonial society in the region.
Drawing on her knowledge of Juan Bandini, and her extensive travels in Mexico and Latin America, Diane created the same welcoming, party atmosphere, filling it with authentic, beautiful folk art and antiques.
Outside, many long-time diners may also recognize the Mexican Cantera stone fountain centered in the Talavera-tiled pool as the same one from the Old Town location, which she moved along with the entire restaurant to the Carlsbad location after losing the lease on the Old Town building in 2005.
Diane credits much of the restaurant’s success to longtime general manager and Carlsbad native Gilbert Gastelum, as well as Chef Ignacio Garcia.
“We all are so proud of this restaurant and the great work being done by Gilbert, Ignacio and the entire Bandini team. We all share in the passion for what we have created, and the culture of service and fiesta dining which we continue building each day” she said.
Her creative and artistic approach is apparent in all aspects of Casa de Bandini and in her other customer-focused businesses.
An accomplished entrepreneur and design professional, Diane created and still operates the colorfully vibrant Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town.
This “Marketplace of the World” opened in 1971. Now celebrating a half-century in business, the Bazaar attracts thousands of visitors with its curated collections featuring women’s fashions, accessories, & jewelry, along with marvelous treasures for the home including kitchen & tabletop, Mata Ortiz pottery, beautiful hand-woven fabrics – which are custom-made exclusively for the Bazaar, plus folk-art collectibles and other finds from Mexico, Latin America, and beyond. All capturing the spirit and adventure of the world traveler she is.
She discovered her passion for color and cultures during her extensive travels. Says Diane, “During my early travel days after college I traveled all throughout Mexico, Central America, India, Morocco, China and most of Europe. The more I traveled the more I got to experience and learn about different cultures, architecture, and food. It had an amazing influence on my style.”
She also created and continues to operate two other award-winning Mexican restaurants in San Diego County: Casa Guadalajara is next door to Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town; Casa de Pico, her first restaurant – also opened in 1971 in Old Town – now located in La Mesa at Grossmont Center.
To maintain the authentic festive environment and superior quality of each restaurant, Diane dedicates herself to weekly menu tastings and management meetings. Her painstaking attention to detail is evident in everything she does from selecting the décor that evokes her trademark style to understanding her customers – making time to read each customer comment card from Casa de Bandini.
Her outstanding passion for quality and customer service has propelled her to the esteemed position as one of the largest 100% women-owned businesses in San Diego and one of the top 500 woman-owned businesses in the nation.
Read more profiles: Faces of North County 2022.