Cafe, rooftop space planned for village’s historic Francisco building

The proposed New Francisco building in the Rancho Santa Fe village.

Plans are underway to bring a new gourmet cafe, market and unique rooftop destination to the Rancho Santa Fe village.

Called the New Francisco, the project re-imagines the Francisco Building on the corner of Paseo Delicias and Via De Santa Fe, designed by Lilian Rice in 1923.

Developer Matt Power said his goals are to preserve the historic building and give it new life, bringing a market back to the village as well as a new café and bar experience.

“I would love to open in June 2023 to celebrate 100 years of the building in the village,” Power said. “I’m really excited.”

Story poles went up last week marking the outlines of the rooftop feature and renderings with scannable QR codes posted in the building’s windows give passersby a peek at what Power has in mind.

“The feedback has been good, I think everyone is very supportive of the project,” said Power.

Power has been working in real estate design and development for over 20 years and last year opened MRKT Space in Leucadia, modeled after the gourmet market and cafe concept he started in Australia. He anticipates his third location of MRKT Space to open in La Jolla this spring.

With its distinctive arched doorway and ornamental quatrefoil, the Francisco Building was part of the first block of Rancho Santa Fe’s civic center and served as the headquarters for the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company. In 1936, it became Ashley’s, a small grocery store that operated until 1990. Since then, it had been a real estate office.

Inside the Leucadia MRKT Space.

A native of Australia, Power has lived in the Encinitas area for 25 years and has been coming to the Rancho Santa Fe village for many years with his family: “I’m very familiar with the Ranch and I love the building.”

When he heard it was available, he partnered with a Rancho Santa Fe resident to take over the space.

“I couldn’t believe such an amazing building was just sitting there and no one was interested in it,” Power said.

Power and his architect Don Looney have met with the Rancho Santa Fe Association to develop a design and they are working their way through the Art Jury process.

The ground floor of The New Francisco will be a MRKT Space designed to reflect the Rancho Santa Fe style. The MRKT Space cafe menu (think coffee, light breakfast items, Mediterranean-style sandwiches, artisan flatbreads and charcuterie and cheese grazing boards) will be incorporated with an expanded market stocked with grocery items, a place that locals can rely on to pick up the basics. Power said he hopes the “sophisticated yet casual” ambiance will be the perfect spot for morning coffee, a quick business lunch or after-work drinks and bites.

Power plans to create indoor/outdoor connectivity with big windows that open up onto the Paseo Delicias side.

Within MRKT Space, there will also be a semi-private wine bar called The Village Vault. The vault will be a temperature-controlled space where locals can securely store and show off their favorite wines and spirits. With access directly off a Via De Santa Fe entrance, the Vault can be rented out for private dinners or business meetings.

Something that Power is particularly excited about for the New Francisco is Rooftop In the Ranch, the elevated outdoor dining destination atop the building. Designed to be inconspicuous from the street, the Rooftop will offer a covered outdoor bar area and outdoor dining and gathering areas, taking advantage of the sunshine and the views.

“The best view is facing town and looking up and down Paseo Delicias and the mountains to the east,” Power said.

The interiors of The New Francisco have not been fully developed yet and Power continues to work through the Art Jury and Association approval process. It is his hope that the development will help play a role in the revitalization of the village.

Other village projects in development include a new pharmacy building on the corner of La Granada and El Tordo, and the Gateway, a two-story office and retail building that will replace the existing gas station. Both projects were approved by the RSF Association in 2017 and have received extensions through 2023 and 2025 respectively.