San Diego Signal

BBQ & Benevolence: The Legacy Of San Diego Restaurateur Phil Pace

From the plate to the pocket, Pace believes in giving generous portions to his community. 

San Diego restaurateur Phil Pace, owner of Phil’s BBQ, has spent nearly three decades building a legacy of delicious barbeque dishes for thousands of loyal customers, donating more than a million dollars to various local charity organizations, and opening a horse rescue ranch.

But for the man behind the BBQ, Pace’s love for hospitality extends far beyond the kitchen. From the plate to the pocket, Pace believes in giving generous portions to his community by focusing his corporate largesse on underprivileged children, needy families, and displaced animals. 

“I just do what my heart tells me to do,” Pace told The San Diego Tribune. “ I just can’t hold back. I want to help people and share my life and my prosperity with others.”

Such acts of kindness have come in the form of donating food for gala’s that host thousands of guests, paying veterinarian bills for strangers, and helping children and families in need.

“I was a child who didn’t go without anything,” he said. “Just the thought of being a child and not having a family, or friends or things to play with, that hits me in a special spot.”

Pace opened his first location in Mission Hills in 1998 after creating a top-secret recipe for BBQ rubs and sauce from scratch. Between the fantastic food and huge portions served in the fast-casual dining and friendly environment, Pace’s food brings loyal foodies across San Diego County to feast on mesquite-grilled barbeque food, including baby back and beef ribs, chicken, sandwiches, and all of the fixings to compliment the Southern-style dishes. 

In 2007, Pace relocated the original location to Point Loma and has since established four more restaurants in Santee, Rancho Bernardo, Temecula, and San Marcos, which closed its doors at the end of its lease in 2020. The local restaurant chain also opened a location at the San Diego International Airport (Terminal 2 West).

“We thrive on providing each guest with the ‘Phil’s Experience’, which basically comes down to organized chaos,” Pace said, according to the restaurant’s website. “The biggest reason behind our success is our loyal customers who have supported us and waited in line for a taste of BBQ since ’98.”

Since joining the San Diego community, Pace has donated over one million dollars to local charities around the County, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, San Diego Police Foundation, Labrador Rescuer, and a number of others listed on the restaurant’s website.

In 2014, Pace founded a non-profit equine rescue and rehabilitation center. cunningly named ResQue Ranch. The six-acre facility in Escondido, California, provides shelter, physical and social therapy, and adoption opportunities for rescued and rehabilitated horses.

When he was a boy, Pace told CBS8 that his passion for animals derived from watching his mother rescue stray dogs and ducks. The inspiration led him to save neglected, abused, and abandoned horses from dangerous environments. 

“I hate cruelty,” he said. “It’s tough. It’s tough.”

The ranch also hosts ResQue Vineyards and avocado groves, which annually produce approximately 600 gallons of wine and 80,000 pounds of avocados to help support the daily operations and a small team of staff and volunteers.

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