Croce’s, a restaurant and jazz club that has been a Gaslamp Quarter staple for nearly 30 years, will close by year’s end, owner Ingrid Croce said in a statement.

Croce said operators were unable to work out a lease renewal agreement with the landlord of the space at 802 Fifth Ave., over issues including noise from a neighboring business in the same building, and her restaurant will leave the site as of Dec. 31.

The restaurant opened in 1985, about 12 years after it was first envisioned by Ingrid Croce and her then husband, Jim Croce, during a visit to San Diego shortly before the singer’s 1973 death in a plane crash.

Croce said she and her current husband, Jimmy Rock, were recently making plans for “Croce’s Park West” in Banker’s Hill, not as a substitute for the original Croce’s “but as a new island of hospitality and community.”

“We honestly never imagined that we would lose Croce’s,” she said, noting operators were unable to reach a lease agreement after more than four years of negotiations with the current owner of the historic Keating Hotel building at Fifth Avenue and F Street.

Croce’s is among the businesses credited with helping turn around the formerly seedy and run-down Gaslamp Quarter neighborhood, with the restaurant becoming a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists.

“Our employees have already decided to do a reunion in July, for all employees that have ever worked at Croce’s,” Croce said. “And we will invite back many of the musicians who have played at Croce’s throughout the years.”

— SDBJ Staff Report