Oceanside’s famous ‘Top Gun’ house reopens as a nostalgic pie shop

For much of the past 36 years, Oceanside’s famous “Top Gun” house was closed and moved from location to location as the downtown waterfront exploded with growth.

But on Friday, the 135-year-old Victorian cottage that featured in Tom Cruise’s 1986 film ‘Top Gun’ celebrated its new permanent home and occupant. Now located on an oceanfront lot on the grounds of the year-old Mission Pacific Hotel at 201 N. Myers St., the Top Gun House is now home to HIGH-pie, a nostalgic American-inspired bakery .

On Friday afternoon, a line of customers snuck out the door and onto the sidewalk of the shop, which sells fried-to-order hand pies filled with applesauce or cherries and hand pies.” à la mode” filled with mascarpone ice cream. The pies are served on a popsicle stick with optional dipping sauces like salted caramel and lemon curd. The shop also sells coffee and other beverages as well as souvenir t-shirts and hats.

“Top Gun” memorabilia line the walls of HIGH-pie, a new handmade pie shop located inside Top Gun’s historic Oceanside home. Here, employees prepare for the pre-opening of the store on Friday.

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Inside, the cottage is decorated with nautical wallpaper, paintings and needlepoint art of fishing boats and navy aircraft carriers, posters and photos of Cruise and the movie “Top Gun”.

HIGH-pie is the brainchild of Palm Springs hospitality business owner Tara Lazar. In his native Palm Springs, Lazar owns three restaurants, two bars, a catering business and a hotel.

Prior to starting his business, F/10, Lazar worked as a trader on the options floor of the San Francisco Stock Exchange. When her father fell ill, she moved back to Palm Springs to help care for him in 2006 and started working from home as a day trader. She and her husband, commercial real estate businessman Marco Rossetti, have always loved restaurants, and opening her own restaurant has always been a dream.

“I loved breakfast and my friends would come to visit and we had no place to take them, so I had the idea of ​​opening a breakfast place. I started to lose more and more money sitting in front of my computer and decided that if I was losing money, I might as well go into the restaurant business.

In 2008, she opened Cheeky’s, a brunch-centric Palm Springs restaurant where everything is made from scratch using local ingredients and the menu changes weekly. She has since also opened a steakhouse, Italian restaurant, cocktail bar, tiki bar and catering business. She also owns the Alcazar, a 34-room boutique hotel.

A La Modes are pies on a stick with an ice cream center at HIGH-pie in Oceanside's historic Top Gun house.

A La Modes are pies on a stick with an ice cream center at HIGH-pie, a new handmade pie shop that has opened in Oceanside’s historic Top Gun house.

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

For several years, Lazar said she wanted to break into the restaurant business in San Diego, but struggled to find the right space. Next, she connected to SD Malkin Properties, the Connecticut-based global retail investment firm that built the Mission Pacific Hotel and adjacent Seabird Resort, both of which opened in 2021. The founder Scott Malkin is a fan of the movie “Top Gun”, so as part of the deal to develop the 2.75-acre beachfront property, he offered to give the Top Gun traveling house a place to stay and a facelift.

Originally known as Graves House after its original owner, Dr. Henry Graves, the 500 square foot home was one of many cottages built along Pacific Street in downtown Edinburgh. Oceanside in the 1880s. Over the years, as the downtown commercial district grew, all of the other cottages were torn down. According to local historians, the Graves House had significant historical merit due to its age and folk Victorian architectural style, more common in San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest. As a result, the city purchased Graves House in the 1980s to protect it from demolition.

Meanwhile, in 1986, “Top Gun” was released to worldwide acclaim. Tom Cruise starred in the film as a cocky Navy pilot based in San Diego. The Graves House was featured in a scene in the film as the home of Cruise’s on-screen girlfriend, played by actress Kelly McGillis.

In 2019, the house was hoisted up and moved a few blocks to make way for the construction of the hotel. With consultation from the Oceanside Historical Society and Save Our Heritage Organization, SD Malkin Properties spent nearly $1 million to restore the house to its original design with a new chimney, refreshed roof and recreation of its watermark adorned with gingerbread along the roofline and porches.

Malkin first hired Lazar to develop the menu for the Mission Pacific hotel’s High/Low cafe, which she described as a healthier version of the breakfasts that surfers eat around the world, like Hawaiian fried rice. , Australian corn fritters and Southern California burritos, but with homemade SPAM and American-style cheese.

Lazar said his concept for HIGH-pie is closely tied to the movie “Top Gun,” American patriotism, the military, and the ocean. Due to the store’s small size, a dessert concept worked best for the space, and Lazar said she knew Scott Malkin was an apple pie fan. Her too.

“I loved McDonald’s apple pies growing up. I wanted to recreate that in a really nutritious and recognizable way, using old-fashioned butter, gluten-free cup-for-cup flour, and toppings that are ingredients very clean, like cherry, almond extract and sugar..

The store will host a grand opening event on May 20, just five days before a long-awaited movie sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” opens in theaters.

Locally run by Elijiah Alexander, HIGH-pie is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The menu is available at famoushighpie.com.

The historic Top Gun House, now a pie shop, is located on the grounds of the Mission Pacific Hotel in Oceanside.

The historic Top Gun House, now a pie shop, is located on the grounds of the Mission Pacific Hotel in Oceanside.

(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Laura J. Boyer