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Locals gather at the scene after an early-morning fire on Sept. 30 devastated local businesses on the corner of North Coast Highway 101 and Daphne Street. Photo by Abraham Jewett
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Lick the Plate: A slice of funky Leucadia goes up in flames

I was on a plane Sunday night flying back from Michigan to San Diego and had a list of work-related projects to tackle. One of those was writing a 30- and 15-second radio spot for Mozy Café  for an upcoming radio campaign on 100.7 San Diego that I was providing the voice for.  The objective was to utilize my radio presence to spread my genuine love for Mozy to folks that had not experienced the Leucadia gem. Having dabbled in radio for some time now with Lick the Plate, I’ve made it a point to only represent businesses that I would have no hesitation recommending to folks and Mozy fit that perfectly.

Gary Grassi, owner of Mozy Cafe, during an appearance on David Boylan’s Lick The Plate radio program. Grassi says he hopes to rebuild. Photo by David Boylan

After a recent Lick the Plate column and owner Gary Grassi’s appearance on the radio show, my only problem writing those ads was deciding on what fabulous attributes to highlight and editing them down to radio-friendly lengths. Would it be about the delicious healthy-focused food and beverages or Mozy being one of the last remaining spots along the Coast Highway corridor that runs through Leucadia that represented the “Keep it Funky” vibe of the area that is quickly disappearing. Early drafts had me focusing on experiencing the essence of old school Leucadia in the 30-second and going with brief descriptions of some of my favorite dishes in the 15. It was a combination I was eager to present to Gary this week prior to launching the campaign next week.

Due to strong headwinds, my plane landed a bit later that usual and I did not make it back to beautiful Leucadia until midnight.  I still had some creative energy going so put some more time into the ad copy until I dozed off around 1 a.m.  I was awakened by sirens coming from Coast Highway a short time later and figured something big was going on but left it at that and dosed off.  I awoke to several texts from early riser friends with news of the fire that destroyed not only Mozy Café but Shatto & Sons, The Cali Life Photography and Peace Pies. This seemed like a bad dream and being in a half sleep I ignored it, trying to get back to sleep but slowly confronting the reality at hand. How could this be … this ironic, cruel twist of fate that had a place that I had recently rediscovered and become so immersed in burn to a point where it was a total loss? I had made the commitment  to utilize my Lick the Plate platform to help promote Mozy and tell its story in what has become a very competitive restaurant landscape in Encinitas and Leucadia.

You’ve heard me ramble about my love/hate relationship with the gentrification of  Encinitas and Leucadia and on the love side was people like Gary Grassi buying an iconic restaurant like Mozy and putting a little love into it but keeping the essence intact. I mentioned in my column a few weeks back that the improvements he made actually made it more desirable to me and it had become my new go-to spot after a local surf session … a healthy alternative to the taco joints. It was also a place where the wide variety of people that drew me to this area in the first place. The yogis, surfers, vegetarians, sporty types, and the money folks that reside in the neighborhoods surrounding it. The colorful décor and reggae influenced soundtrack set the tone for an atmosphere void of pretension,  another one of the primary attributes of Leucadia that kept me here.

Owner Gary Grassi has said he hopes to rebuild but that decision is the hands of the building owner James Shatto.  A big chunk of the soul of Leucadia went up in flames and I’m sure it would be very easy and tempting for him to cash in on the prime location yet I’m thinking the majority of locals would like to see Mozy and Shatto come back in a building that captures the essence of the original but a bit with some updated amenities after all the original building was 60 years old.

A Gofundme account has been set up to help that cause along.  Click here or search Mozy Café at

And long live the spirit of the Mozy Café!