Keninsgton - picturesque, upscale and charming

Visiting Kensington is like getting a comfortable and unassuming hug from an old friend. The quaint and quiet community, tucked away just east of I-15, sits on a four-to-five block stretch lined with restaurants, shops and boutiques on Adams Avenue.

"Some say, if you blink you will miss it," long-time Kensington resident and homeowner, Jim Chandler said. "It is a desirable area to live and compared to some of the more popular neighborhoods around San Diego such as La Jolla, Point Loma and Coronado, Kensington is so much more accessible than the other communities."

Ken Theater
The "Ken" theater located in the heart of Kensington..

Home to such landmarks as the Ken Cinema, built in 1946 and opened as the first theatre to bring quality foreign films to San Diego, Kensington boasts a small-town feel with the diversity and culture of a downtown area.

For Bleu Bohéme chef and owner Ken Irvine, the community has been very welcoming. Located on the corner of Kensington and Adams Avenue, the local restaurant serves fine French cuisine with influences from all regions of France.

"The demographic of this area is so diverse and so mixed," Irvine said. "It is a very unique community...residents are proud to live here. They simply love Kensington."

House in Kensington
Old Spanish-style homes dating back to the early 1900's are found throughout Kensington, making the area quite desirable to homeowners and prospective buyers. .

With such great restaurants such as Ponce's Mexican Restaurant, Kensington Café, Kensington Grill, Bleu Bohéme and Clem's Bottle House & Deli, the area is a very vibrant part of the Adams Business District, according to Jim Schneider, Adams Avenue Business Association Executive Director.

"There is a hometown feel and real sense of community among the residents and businesses here," Schneider said. "Property values seem to hold well and most of the businesses are long-term tenants or property owners. Kensington is a very stable, family friendly area for homes and businesses alike."

Cafe in Kensington
The Kensington Café offers an extensive selection of breakfast treats, a vegan/vegetarian-friendly lunch menu and tapas served daily. For those in need of a quick caffeine-fix or a blended smoothie, look no further.

.As far as family businesses go, Kensington Video and Clem's Bottle House & Deli are two of Kensington's most talked about hot spots. Since 1963, Kensington Video has been owned and operated by the Hanford family. The Adams Avenue location is lined ceiling-to-floor and front-to-back with VHS and DVD videos. Rich and Winnie Hanford have been managing and running the video shop with the help of their son, Guy and daughter, Pam.
"If you can't find it here, you better stop looking." Rich Hanford said. "That was Guy's idea when we first started out. He said, 'Dad, we've got to have movies that no one else has because no one wants to go any further then they have to go.'"

Adding to the charm of the local video store is "Winnie's 100 Sure-Fire Movie Picks," a section dedicated to co-owner Winnie Hanford and her selection of movies for every mood and occasion.

"People come here from all around asking for Winnie and her pick of the day," Hanford said. sense of community," said Bella Hollingworth. "We enjoy living here very much."

Talmadge Street Sign
The historic "wonder house of stone" built in 1926 is one of the architectural landmarks in Kensington.

Across Adams Avenue and half a block east is Clem's Bottle House & Deli. From the outside it would be easy to pass this little gem on by, but given the word on the street, it is worth a further look. Owned by the Kasawdish family for 25 years, the local spot has an immense variety wine, liquor and a deli counter that would put most corporate sandwich shop to shame. Walid and Wafa Kasawdish are joined by their son Paul in running and operating the shop and greet their patrons with warm smiles and a handshake.

For those into health and wellness, ZEN Sanctuary has found a home here. At 4183 Adams Avenue, it provides acupuncture, massage and skin care services. Yen 4 Zen Yoga, also located off Adams Avenue, seeks to create personalized yoga experiences, tailored to the needs of the individual and focused on decreasing stress, improving overall strength and physical fitness and decreasing pain. Other local shops such as Peevey's Jewelry, Kensington Vine, DJ's Home Garden & Gift, Club Kensington, Diesel Salon and Kensington Pet Supply all add to the eclectic personality of the community and give the area opportunity for growth by supporting each other as local businesses.

"When you are in such a tight-knit community it is imperative that you work together," said Steve Riley, Kensington Grill general manager. "I have actually never worked in a restaurant where it is such a pleasure to see the regulars all the time. They really become part of your life and we become part of theirs. Good times and bad times, people go out for all occasions."

Located in the heart of Kensington since 1995, the Kensington Grill features modern California cuisine with a global influence and utilizes local growers and resources for fresh organic menu items and specials. A must-try according to Riley; the shrimp savory waffles with scallions and jack cheese, topped with a Fresno chili, shrimp, Creole butter and white wine sauce.

Given all the various committees such as the Kensington Talmadge Community Associations and the Adams Avenue Association, along with local businesses and residents contributing to keeping Kensington a safe, clean and thriving community, it is no surprise the neighborhood is celebrating its first centennial this year. The Centennial Celebration will provide Kensington an opportunity to host yearlong events to honor the community. For more information, visit www.ken100th.com.

In the words of Bleu Bohéme chef and owner Ken Irvine, "My philosophy here is when you walk in the front door, you are coming into my house." A sentiment, which seems to grow and resonate throughout the community of Kensington


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