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Dick and Pat Nixon’s Go-To San Diego Date Spots

The Alpine couple recalls their beginnings at the Hotel Del Coronado and how, yes, they've been mixed up with the former president and first lady
Dick and Pat Nixon's Go-To San Diego Date Spots

Dick and Pat Nixon’s Go-To San Diego Date Spots

Ages: 86; 71

Occupations: Fundraising consultants

Neighborhood: Alpine

Dating Since: September 1977; married August 1979

Their Go-To Date

Dick and Pat love the bar at Jaynes Gastropub

Any relation to the former president and first lady?

D: No, but I had four fraternity brothers on his staff.

P: When we were getting married, we had to go file at the county to get our license. We had TV stations calling us. The Union wanted to come. It was like, no! We got married at the Mission, and even that morning as I was walking up to the church, I did not know if there would be anyone there or not. It was kind of scary.

How did you meet?

P: I lived in LA and worked for a trade magazine for the delicatessen industry called Deli News. It’s still around! I came down here for a seminar and was staying at The Del. A friend I played tennis with said, “I gotta introduce you to my friend.” I went to bed early that night and when I woke up there was a message on my phone. The voice was like, “Can I meet you for lunch?” And there was no name, just a phone number! I was like, What the heck? I called and said, “Who is this?” I hadn’t known I would be set up. Dick’s version of that was… Oh, he’ll tell you.

D: She was sunbathing by the pool at The Del; I walked by and said, “Young lady, do I gotta walk by you again, or is it love at first sight?”

P: That’s not what happened, but he tells everybody that.

Where was your first date?

P: He came to pick me up at The Del, then we went out to Bennigan’s for lunch. Afterward we went to Bully’s East—he said that was his favorite place. He wanted to watch the football game.

From The Del to… Bennigan’s? And Bully’s?

P: Of all places, Bennigan’s. I don’t know how he chose that.

D: Mission Valley was the center in those years!

What was your first impression?

P: When I saw him he was good looking, but definitely older, because he had gray hair and I’d never dated anyone with gray hair.

D: You don’t want to stop at “He was good looking.” He’s still good looking.

P: But he was a very good dresser and still is.

D: I looked at Patty and I thought, She’s a good person inside and out, and that’s where it begins.

What are your go-to date spots?

P: We love Jaynes.

D: Yes, they’ve got beautiful people skills. Jayne and her husband are wonderful and they hire their staff that way. If you have dinner or a couple drinks out on the patio you feel you’ve got your own solitude. We also like Campfire in Carlsbad.

What’s the most romantic thing your partner has done?

P: He gave me a trash can. We were dating a year. I get this large trash can with flowers painted on it.

D: It was beautifully done! Piece of art!

P: I was stunned. I was crying. He thought it was so romantic—the flowers would never die. I still have the trash can, by the way.

How did you propose?

D: It was at Top of the Cove in La Jolla, which is now Duke’s. While she went to the john, I hoofed it back to the car to get a framed print of Norman Rockwell’s The Marriage License.

P: He was gone for 15 minutes! I thought, Where is he?

Was there a ring?

P: I got to pick out my own ring.

Did he get down on one knee?

P: No, he did not. He was so tired from walking to the car. He didn’t have the energy.

D: Her memory’s not good. I was on two knees.

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