Anaheim revamps its historic packing district

Using agricultural history to build a sustainable future

Anaheim Packing House
The exterior of the recently revitalized Anaheim Packing House, set to open later this year as part of the restoration of the downtown Packing District. — photo courtesy Anaheim Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau

Just two miles from the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland, Anaheim’s historic Packing District has recently been revitalized to offer visitors an escape from the commercial to a destination deeply rooted in local culture.

Focusing on the celebration of the agricultural history of Orange County, the Packing District’s three components—the Packard Car Showroom, a Farmers Park and the Anaheim Packing House—focus on local food providers.

Packard Car Showroom

A 1925 building, the Packard Car Showroom underwent miscellaneous modifications for decades. Today, as part of the revitalization of the Packing District, the showroom houses two popular service industry establishments: Umami Burger and the Anaheim Brewery. 

Umami Burger is a hip LA-based gourmet burger restaurant with a specialty called the Welsh Rarebit, a sandwich typically eaten by the common folk during the time the Packard car was popular.

The Anaheim Brewery ran ads in the Anaheim Gazette as early as 1870 and enjoyed successful operations until Prohibition. After 90 years, the brand has been resuscitated and the brewery, which shares a beer garden with Umami Burger, is once again becoming a favourite local hangout offering patrons a setting “rich in history and taste.”

According to Anaheim Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau communications manager Juan Flores, when the ground around the brewery was being graded and leveled, 500 rusted metal license plates were unearthed. The brewery’s proprietors decided to use the old license plates as part of the décor, and patrons can now view the plates as wall art and light fixtures.

Farmers Park

Unique to Orange County, Farmers Park is a two-acre community park with grassy knolls, a stage for live music, a greenhouse café, a boardwalk area for weekend farmer’s markets and a biannual food truck rally, as well as other community activities that focus on the support of local agriculture, farming, education, food, history, art and music.

According to Shaheen Sadeghi, CEO of LAB Holding, the developer of the Anaheim Packing District, “Farmers Park and the Anaheim Packing District will be Anaheim’s very own place of authenticity to celebrate community.”

The park is set to celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, June 29, from 1 to 7 p.m. The event will feature live music as well as workshops on gardening, farming, tin whistle playing and cigar box guitar making. The grand opening will also launch the inaugural Farm Folk Festival, an Americana music festival featuring local bluegrass, indie and roots performers.

The Packing House

The last component of the Packing District to reach completion is the Packing House, an historic two-storey citrus packing building originally constructed in 1919. Scheduled to open later this year, the restored Packing House will serve as a 40,000 square foot culinary centre designed with a public atmosphere that Flores said will be similar to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. In addition to housing a diverse mix of approximately 20 artisan food and beverage purveyors, the venue will also offer food demonstrations, lectures and live music on a stage in the back yard.

According to Anaheim Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau communications vice president Elaine Cali, the revitalized Packing District is giving Anaheim a new sense of place.

“The fact that all of these venues, restaurants and retail offerings are independent, authentic and historic gives us a renewed appeal as a destination,” said Cali. “Anaheim is known as the home of the original Disneyland and this new area showcases that Anaheim has deep roots in Orange County and in the California culture. We think this area—just three miles from Disneyland—will be very popular with visitors who want to explore more of Anaheim and also give locals a new destination to explore or rediscover.”

The Anaheim Packing District is located at 400 South Anaheim Boulevard.

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