Zel’s Del Mar
Also known as Pacific Telephone Exchange Center
Zel’s restaurant was originally used as a Pacific Telephone Exchange (SKline) Center. The center was relocated in the late 70s to the North side of Del Mar Heights Road, across from the current Shell Station. The vacant building was subsequently purchased by local liquor store owner Zel Camiel and leased in the 1980s to former Del Mar Mayor Nancy Hoover who converted it into a restaurant frequented by an elite, powerful and wealthy clientele. The restaurant eventually unraveled and the property was re-leased, but it has always remained a dining establishment and local favorite. Today the restaurant is owned and operated by Zel’s grandson Greg Glassman and his wife Jennifer who named the restaurant in honor of the family patriarch. Zel came to Del Mar in the early days and operated a liquor store in the old strip mall at 15th Street and Camino Del Mar until the property was sold and converted into what is now the Del Mar Plaza. Zel was a town favorite, and spearheaded the capital campaign to build Seagrove Park on the oceanfront at the base of 15th Street. Known as the unofficial Mayor of Del Mar, Zel was honored by the City when he passed away in 1987 with a bench in Seagrove Park to commemorate his life and accomplishments. The original bench that bears his name has recently been relocated to the restaurant site, and the family has donated a replacement bench installed at the ocean view location of the original.
Sources: Gregory Glassman, Carl Hilliard, The Story of Zel