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.