Owner of Bubbles by the Beach & Johnny Manana's
Evonte Jina believes so much in downtown Oceanside that he's bought three businesses in the area – a restaurant, a market/liquor store, and a pub.
He's also moved here.
Jina believes as much as possible in hometown ownership of the shops and restaurants that give them that local Oceanside feel.
“I saw what was going on, the buildings all around us,” Jina said in a recent interview, and he wanted to be a part of it.
“We will grow our businesses,” Jina said. “That's what makes Oceanside what it is.”
Five years ago, Jina bought what had been known as Pier View Market, accessed primarily off Cleveland Street. He remodeled and renamed it Bubbles By the Beach Market & Liquor.
Oceanside historian Kristi Hawthorne said the site once was occupied by the Seaside Inn hotel, but it was torn down to build the market in 1966.
There's still plenty of liquor – advertising 38 tap beers and, of course, stocking the champagne signified in the Bubbles name, but the store also carries all kinds of items, from deli-style sandwiches and salads to beach balls to sweatshirts and T-shirts.
With the addition of new hotels in the area, Jina said much of the clientele are tourists.
Next, in 2020, Jina bought Johnny Mañana's Mexican Restaurant, which faces Mission Avenue and backs to the other side of the parking lot in front of the market.
“I had had my eyes on it” soon after he bought the store, Jina said, and then he heard that longtime owner Alfonso Jimenez was ready to retire after more than three decades running the place.
Hawthorne said it's been a restaurant since the 1930s and once was called Owl Lunch.
There have been some renovations, but the place has kept its menu of familiar food and drink and distinctive appearance, with brightly colored carved wooden benches and patio seating around a large, lighted central tree, barely more than a sapling when planted by Jimenez so long ago.
A year ago, Jina bought Pier View Pub, on the corner of Pier View Way and Cleveland abutting the back of the market. It's undergoing renovations. Hawthorne said it started out in life as a fishing bait and boating supplies shop, again in the 1930s, and then was a restaurant called Denny's (not the national chain).
Jina has partners, including Ryan Salem and Samer Cholakh, and his two brothers, Devon and Evan, in his enterprises. But he's the one to take up roots in Oceanside, making his home in Downtown Oceanside – “I love living by the beach” – with his wife, Ashley, and three-month-old son, Pierce.
He was brought up on the concept of “mom-and-pop” ownership.
“My parents raised me with a business sense,” he said. He later got a degree from San Diego State University and went on to law school briefly but decided that wasn't for him.
Jina's parents, immigrants from a war-torn Iraq, owned a 7-Eleven store in San Diego, where he was born and raised – and he learned the retail business from his family. Like many owners of convenience stores in the county, they are Chaldeans (Catholic Iraqis often persecuted by the Muslim majority in their country).
He's not stopping with these three Oceanside businesses, however. Jina and partners have bought the former Ortega's restaurant in the Ocean Beach area of San Diego and are renaming it a second Johnny Mañana's. They have Bubbles locations in the Hillcrest and Normal Heights areas of San Diego.
“All this was made possible because of Oceanside (successes),” he said.
But food and beverage aren't Jina's only interests. He's been a rap artist for the past 10 years as well, with singles and albums using the performance name of Xhaos (pronounced “Chaos”). His latest album is titled “Lifting Up and Letting Go” and was released on June 19 (6/19) for the San Diego telephone area code.
“I have a passion for music,” he said.
Wrapping up, he said passion might indicate a lot of what drives him, in business and in life.