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Calendar >  Vista’s Carl’s Tavern Demolished

Vista’s Carl’s Tavern Demolished

By   /  August 8, 2016  /  6 Comments

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Carl’s Tavern, a long time landmark in Vista, was demolished on Saturday, August 6, 2016.  The history of Carl’s was provided to theVistaPress.com by Ray Johnson.

In the late 1930’s, Carl Pohlmeier opened a little place named Carl’s in Vista.  The wooden building housed a gas station with three pumps in the front and a small bar on the east side.  In the 1950’s the state began its expansion of Highway 78 from 2 to 4 lanes.  It reached into Vista around 1954-55.  Carl’s Tavern and the gas station were basically, “caught in the fast lane”.  As the work continued on Highway 78, Carl made the move that would result in Carl’s Tavern being relocated to 1565 West Vista Way.  A small café on the south side of Vista Way somewhere in the vicinity of Emerald Drive was in the path of the new freeway.  Carl purchased the building, had it moved from that location and named it Carl’s Café.

The original gas station-bar was gone, forever.  He operated the new place until the early 1970’s when he sold it to a retired Marine named Albert Barkauskas, and until its closing in 2007 the tavern was owned by a succession of retired Marines. Barkauskas, Harry Smith, Robert Bunce, Leo Grassilli, Donald (Mac) MacGillivray and his wife Joann MacGillivray made the little tavern a place for Marines to celebrate promotions, transfers, retirements, and, most of all, the Marine Corps Birthday, celebrated every year on November 10th .

In 1987 Clint Eastwood was at Camp Pendleton filming scenes for his movie, “Heartbreak Ridge”. He was looking for someplace in town to shoot some ‘bar scenes’ and when he inquired about a place that would reflect the Marine Corps tradition he received a unanimous reply – “Carl’s Tavern in Vista”

The tavern became a local celebrity, and until it closed people would make it a point to stop and see “the place where Heartbreak Ridge was filmed”.  The tavern closed on Sunday July 15, 2007.

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6 Comments

  1. stuart clarke says:

    memory’s ,, semper fi ,, good by ..

  2. Casey Clarke says:

    I will miss this place. I miss you grandma and grandpa <3 Wish I could have saved it and kept it in the family.

  3. Darrin says:

    I just returned to California after being out of the marine corps for 30 years. Break my heart that this isn’t there anymore. Was on my bucket list of places to return to. Drank many a beer in that place and few rounds were bought by Clint Eastwood during the filming of that movie

  4. Dana. Davison says:

    My husband was the caregiver to a retired Marine for many years, and was also a designated driver for much of north San Diego County during the 80’s & 90’s. I later moved in with them and we 3 became family. I remember him taking me there to pick up our J.J. Brown (who had spent his entire life working for the USMC and later Civil Service, over 50 years.) after an afternoon of drinking and socializing with his buddies. How he loved going there. He had no living family and the people there would always make him feel welcomed and special. He was suffering from dementia and loneliness, until we began taking him with us everywhere we went. We even took him to our Disneyland trips as he had never been there. But his face never lit up quite as it did when we walked into Carl’s! We were just driving by there a few days ago & were trying to remember the name of the quaint little bar he had loved so much. (We lost him about 4 years ago, life has not been the same since.) It was so great to run across this article today.

  5. Mark White says:

    It’s a shame this place was demolished, how can you print that it was a landmark? Landmarks don’t get demolished. Shame on you Vista!

  6. Kimberly Heughan-Jadwani says:

    That was my uncle – Albert Barkauskas! My whole family has served in every branch of the military and my brother (Navy,) just informed me that he had a beer at Uncle Albert’s place!

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