The Rest Of The Story - the Mexican Village

Jim Bell sent this:

By Blanca Gonzalez
7:24 a.m. December 30, 2008
Navy officers and Coronado residents may have known Albert "Bert" Forsyth as the longtime owner of the Mexican Village restaurant, but older hockey fans might recognize the name from his days as a player, coach or team owner.
A native of Canada, Mr. Forsyth found success in hockey and business after spending time herding cattle from Edmonton to Montreal to pay for a ticket to Glasgow, Scotland, where he lived with his Scottish grandparents and played hockey. After years of playing and coaching hockey throughout the world, he and his brother, Jim, owned and coached the San Diego Skyhawks hockey club from 1946 to 1948. Mr. Forsyth, his wife, Mary Kay, and his brother later bought a tiny bar and taco stand in Coronado that would grow to became a popular hangout for Navy officers.

Mr. Forsyth died of heart failure Dec. 14 at his home in Coronado. He was 97.
The Forsyths started with a modest bar that had a takeout Mexican menu, but by the time they sold it in 1974, the expanded Mexican Village was a landmark restaurant and nightclub that seated more than 800 and offered banquet and catering service.

Mr. Forsyth was the idea man in the group, while his brother was the affable host who sang and played piano. Mary Kay Forsyth was the manager who kept everything running smoothly, former employee Eva Adkisson said.

"Mr. Bert was always thinking, always had ideas. He was ahead of his time," Adkisson said. "He had walls built that opened out to make a room bigger for banquets. In the 1960s, he returned from a trip to Europe and said he wanted fish tacos (on the menu). It didn't go over too well then, but now everyone has them."

Mr. Forsyth also came up with the Mexican pizza, one of the restaurant's signature dishes. "It was huge. It was really popular," Adkisson said.

He and his wife also developed a popular salad dressing that rivaled the Caesar dressing, Adkisson said.

Liz Forsyth Lovell said her parents and uncle started the business using unemployed hockey players as bartenders and bouncers. The business eventually attracted Navy pilots and officers. Celebrities, including Dan Blocker, Walt Disney and Liberace, also were customers over the years.

Albert John Chisholm Forsyth was born Nov. 9, 1911, in Wainwright, Alberta, to Ada Helene Kitchen and John Chisholm Forsyth. In a 1988 interview with The San Diego Union, Mr. Forsyth said he got his first job in Mountain Peak, Alberta, as a blacksmith's helper. "I loved it. For at night I played hockey," he said.

He and his brother grew up playing hockey in Alberta, and their love of the sport would later allow them to travel the world. Mr. Forsyth played for a London team before he was hired to coach a Belgium team. The team played in the 1936 Olympic Winter Games.

He later coached in Germany and Switzerland before playing more European hockey. Mr. Forsyth played hockey for Seattle in the Western Hockey League and opened two nightclub bars there with his brother and wife in the 1940s.

The San Diego Skyhawks brought them to San Diego, where they also bought Glacier Garden, a downtown hockey venue. The Forsyths sold their interest in the arena and the team after two seasons in 1948. They bought the Mexican Village in 1949.

Mr. Forsyth is survived by his wife of 69 years, Mary Kay of Coronado; three daughters, Kathy Ashworth of San Diego, Liz Lovell of Coronado and Gabriele of Washington, D.C.; son, Ronald of La Mesa; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother in 2001 and by a son, James, in 1959.

A celebration of Mr. Forsyth's life will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Island Sports Bar in Coronado. family suggests donations to the Coronado High School football program. Checks may be mailed to the Coronado Booster Club, c/o Coach Bud Mayfield, 650 D Ave., Coronado CA, 92118.

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