Updated: Mar 28, 2018
Before entering San Diego State College (which was renamed SDSU in 1972) as a junior, Thurston Coe hadn’t anticipated his future would include joining ΣAE, extensive world travel and ownership of a popular Old Town restaurant.
Brother Coe pledged the CalTheta chapter in 1966.“I had a high school friend who was in the fraternity and I also met a couple of other members,” he said. “I was aware that ΣAE had a strong reputation nationally. I definitely made the right choice.”
As a senior,Thurston lived in one of the “Green Houses,” the original College Place chapter house. “I was in the last group who lived there, before the construction of the new (current) one,” he said. “Only seven Brothers lived in the house then; I think the rent was about $20 a month. It wasn’t luxurious, but we had parking spaces and were close to the campus. I really enjoyed the experience.”
Receiving his Business Administration Degree in 1967, he wasn’t quite ready to enter the workforce. “I took a little different route than many other graduates,” he said. “I had always wanted to travel the world; so during my twenties I took three separate trips, each lasting about a year. I traveled throughout Europe, as well as to Asia, Africa,Australia and elsewhere.”
The world traveler then decided to “settle down,” although on his own schedule. He worked in restaurants in Aspen, Colorado and Sun Valley, Idaho, first as a busboy and then waiter and manager. “For a few years I would work there in the winter and return to the San Diego beach area for the summer.”
He later managed restaurants in San Diego and co-owned one with several partners. In 1985, Thurston became manager of La Piñata in Old Town. “When the owner retired, I had the opportunity to purchase it and we’ve been here ever since.”
Thurston has enjoyed the restaurant profession, but emphasized that there have been some challenges. “For example, when the recession hit in 2008, the restaurant industry went from a peak high to a low,” he explained. “Business was off dramatically, as people didn’t dine out as often. Then when that was finally over, we faced another obstacle when extensive road work in front of the restaurant made it difficult for people to park. Our business has been better the last few months.” Customers definitely approve of La Piñata; for the past three years the Union-Tribune’s Best of the Best survey has ranked it one of San Diego’s Top 10 Mexican restaurants.
While he’s busy throughout the week,Thurston and his wife Renetta enjoy spending long weekends at their second home in Julian. “We love the environment and change of climate. Upon retirement we plan to be there even more frequently.”
They also enjoy visiting their son, an auditor at a San Francisco accounting firm, and taking other short trips.
In addition, he has been involved in Old Town politics, including his service as chairman of the Old Town Planning Group’s Board of Directors. “It not only enables me to be aware of critical business issues, but also to give back to the local community.”
Although his schedule makes it difficult to attend many ΣAE Alumni Association luncheons, the long-time Century Club member has joined his Brothers at numerous Founder’s Day celebrations. “I enjoyed my ΣAE experience during college and have maintained longstanding friendships with a number of Brothers. The Alumni Association is a great way to stay connected.”
~ By David Robinson