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Jersey shore to shore: A legendary local bartender bids farewell to San Diego

Jersey shore to shore: A legendary local bartender says farewell to San Diego.
Photo credit:
Jersey

They say there are many things far less stressful than moving. But that is how I found one of San Diego's most famous and well-loved community members.

Alyssa Mitchell who goes simply by the name "Jersey," (Yes, like in the movie Coyote Ugly) is a woman you have probably seen behind the bar in some of the city's most iconic clubs including every Friday at the Porto Vista Hotel. Her face is synonymous with fun and hard work, but recently her focus has been moving out of her pad in San Diego to move back to her home state of New Jersey.

On July 2, she will be exiting north of Exit 10 in the Garden State, almost 3,000 miles away, toward her namesake after 20 exhilarating and heartwarming years on the southwest coast.

Although her birth certificate puts her at 56-years-old she says she is, "ageless in heart and mind." 

Keeping the details personal about the reasons for the move, only to say that it's about family, Jersey is bittersweet about the transition from shore to shore because in the 16 years of bartending in San Diego she's made her own family here. 

In fact, when asked about what motivates her to mix drinks every night, Jersey gives three reasons. 

"First, middle, and last - personal connection," she says. "They say, 'If you have a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I don’t know who they are, but I do know it’s true."

That epiphany may have only come after she left her white-collar job of two decades, "Twenty years of corporate - now, that was work."

Her connection with the San Diego LGBT community as an ally has been a profound one. From the start she was welcomed with open arms. 

"There is so much love and acceptance here," she says. "The San Diego LGBT community embraced me from the very beginning and created a unique place for me comfortably grow and thrive as a straight sister within the family."

On the other side of the bar Jersey loves live entertainment especially a good stand-up comedian or live band. These interests also blended into her professional career, working in historic venues or popular LGBT weekly get-togethers that look over the San Diego Bay and its dramatic sunsets. 

"I mean, who gets to operate an elevator for 12 years for one of the most legendary LGBT social events in the country and bartend in two of the most beloved old-school piano bars in San Diego?"

"To be a tiny part of the history and legacies of the Park Manor (Top of the Park/Inn at the Park) and The Caliph is an experience I’m very proud of, I hold very dearly, and I will never forget.  I’m also thankful that Top of the Bay continues to provide a place for the community to gather to kick off the weekends for Friday Happy Hour."

Her exit from the service industry in America's Finest City may leave an empty space behind the well, but her love for all the special people she's served is top shelf. 

"Thank you, San Diego, with all my heart!"

As for what's next on her journey, she didn't go into detail but maybe her response to my question about revealing something people don't know about her might give us a clue.

"You’ll have to wait for the book," she said.