By Karen Billing
Rancho Santa Fe’s Cielo Village is in the process of reinventing itself as an event center. It is the hope by new tenant Cielo Village Events that the idyllic Italian-style village will become the new hot spot for weddings, corporate events and catering.
Pacifica has owned the center since September 2012. Cielo Village Events started construction on its facilities at the center on June 8 and is expected to complete renovations by Aug. 1.
“This place has been a ghost town since 2006 and we’re finally putting some life into it,” said James Register, owner of Cielo Village Events which leases space from Pacifica. “I think with us being an anchor tenant we’ve already noticed a change in the environment. We’re already developing some interest and construction has started and that’s really exciting.”
Since being completed nearly seven years ago, the scenic center has been mostly vacant. A handful of retail businesses and restaurants have come and gone but the interiors of the majority of the buildings have never been touched, still with concrete floors and not even a light installed.
Besides the Cielo Village Events buildings, there are still some post office boxes from Z Private Post, a few offices and, in the back, the administrative offices for the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District.
“It’s very quiet here, even on the weekends, so it’s perfect for weddings or special occasion or corporate events,” said Laurie Caty, event sales and wedding coordinator for Cielo Village Events.
Construction underway is focused on developing the various event venues.
One of the most completed of all the spaces is the home of an old golf retail shop that is being transformed into the executive suite. The suite will be the spot for smaller corporate events and a bridal suite, complete with dressing rooms and private bathroom.
“In the future if we do concerts, it can also be the green room for the band,” Caty said.
In the 2,400-square-foot La Campagna (chapel), details are being added so it can function as a multi-use event room — there will be a groom’s room, storage rooms, bathroom and video/audio for corporate events.
Another courtyard-adjacent building will function as a “perfect Plan B” wedding venue in the event of rain on an outdoor wedding.
Across the plaza with a fountain in the middle is a big, 6,200-square-foot Aria Ballroom. They knocked down all of the dividing walls inside the building that was meant for numerous tenants and created one big space that will be ideal for ceremonies and big events. Caty said it was “like Christmas” to finally see how big the grand ballroom will be with all the walls knocked down — framing has been set up for a banquet kitchen off the space.
“The nice thing about this space is that we have a lot of natural light. We have a lot of windows so this won’t be a stuffy ballroom and I think that will really attract people,” Caty said. “It’s a very dynamic room. One whole wall is all glass and double doors and will bring the feel of the village inside.”
Ready for business today is the event company’s Cielo Bistro and restaurant Terrazo Amoré.
Cielo Bistro is open to the public Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving up Café Virtuoso organic coffee from San Diego’s Barista Carlo (try the macadamia nut latte) and bites like pastries and sandwiches. Register said depending on how it is received it could be open for more hours in the future.
Terrazo Amoré is not open on a daily basis but rather is booked out for private events —Caty sees it as a perfect spot for rehearsal dinners.
Site of the defunct restaurant Decanter, the space received new paint, lighting and flooring but kept Decanter’s beautiful floor-to-ceiling wine display case. The case was split in half to open up the restaurant to seat 120 people — the other part of the case was moved near the entrance and can be customized with event-specific decorations.
Executive Chef David Chenelle, also one of the three owners of Cielo Village Events, has developed menus for events (both plated and buffet-style meals) for breakfasts, lunches, power-breaks, mixers, dinners and food-“action” stations. A custom event menu can be made from their wide variety of offerings: Chenelle’s “famous” eggs Benedict, boxed lunches, lobster tail and filet mignon, barbecue or Italian buffets, stations that serve up everything from waffles to mashed potato martinis and desserts such as white chocolate blueberry cheesecake.
The restaurant also features a large patio with gorgeous views that Caty could envision as a place for a private, quiet celebration of life or memorial.
Pacifica also owns 22 acres of the hill surrounding the property and Caty said they have plans to create a vineyard as a second venue/reception area.
“That’s all definitely going to be down the road,” Caty said. “Our plan in the future is to have a hotel and become a complete destination.”
Cielo Village Events will also host its own events at the center about once a month. Upcoming on Saturday, June 29, is “Cigars and Crafts,” an event featuring hand-rolled cigars, tastings from craft brewer Rip Current Brewing Co. and house-made IPA sausages from Chef Chenelle.
Tickets are $50 and available now at cigarsandcrafts.brownpapertickets.com
For information about the center or booking inquiries, visit cieloevents.com or call (800) 354-1403.