gtk-swa-ingrid-croceSouthwest Airlines is proud of our commitment to women. We partner with nonprofit organizations that focus on ways to celebrate women and the important contributions they make to our businesses, communities and daily lives. Through our community partnerships we will continue to honor women throughout the year by celebrating the impacts women make in our communities and ensure bright futures for our female youth.

Since Southwest’s beginnings more than 41 years ago, the LUV airline has always approached business differently—instituting the ten-minute turn, democratizing the skies with affordable air travel, delivering Legendary Customer Service—the list goes on and on. One thing that has remained constant since Southwest took to the skies four decades ago is doing the right thing, and it always comes From the Heart.

The American Dream is not something that just happens; it is something you have to work for. There are people who find their own path, chart their own course and never, ever back down. Entrepreneurs like Ingrid Croce are an example and as Southwest, we are for those kinds of people because we are that kind of airline.

Ingrid Croce

An indomitable spirit and unmatched drive have fueled Ingrid Croce’s success in and efforts on behalf of the San Diego region. A veteran musician and performer, she is no stranger to the spotlight and, since moving beyond the stage, her determination and versatility have allowed her to excel in a number of diverse arenas. No challenge is too big and no goal beyond the grasp of this self-made entrepreneur, restaurateur, author, publisher and philanthropist.

A hard-working businesswoman, Ingrid is widely credited with leading the revitalization of the City’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Today, the Gaslamp is the gem of Downtown San Diego, but when Ingrid first toured the area in the early 1970’s it was hardly a diamond in the rough. However, Ingrid saw the Gaslamp potential and in 1985, she opened Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar as a tribute to her late husband, musician Jim Croce.

From the beginning, Ingrid’s vision and values have been at the core of the Croce’s brand. Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar provided the first viable fine dining and live music option for visitors to the Gaslamp, of which there were few in the venue’s early days. In 1987, Ingrid and her husband, Jim Rock expanded the Croce’s empire opening two other venues to offer diverse dining and entertainment options. In 2004, Ingrid’s determination to build San Diego as a top tier dining destination led her to launch the successful dining event; San Diego Restaurant Week. As a fearless leader and accomplished businesswomen, Ingrid has won various awards and recognitions such as Restaurateur of the Year, Pioneer Award and the President’s Award among many more.

Ingrid is the owner and driving force behind Avalanche Records and Books, which has spawned The San Diego Restaurant Cookbook as well as Thyme in a Bottle, an autobiographical cookbook. Her most recent Photographs and Memories, recipes from Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar with Executive Chef James Clark is a well-crafted journey that sums up a life of flavor, dedication, and passion. Ingrid generously shares her heartfelt stories and candid tales, introducing us to the wonderful people and delicious food that have kept Croce’s the heartbeat of the Gaslamp Quarter.

Ingrid’s keys to success in business and in her personal life are some basic principles such as treat others with respect, be a passionate, creative and to work hard. It is these same principles have always been at forefront on Southwest Airlines. “Southwest Airlines is my favorite airline. Every time I travel, I am greeted with a smile and the people that work at Southwest Airlines makes all the difference of why it is my favorite airline,” Ingrid tells Giving Back Magazine. She values creativity and the individual spirit which be seen in the employees of Southwest Airlines and at Croce’s Restaurant.

The community is Ingrid’s passion and she devotes a great deal of time to assisting others. She received the City of Hope Spirit of Life Award, works with the Emilio Nares Foundation and contributes to the Center for Community Solutions. She has also created opportunities for local musicians by providing a venue to perform becoming known in the community.

Soon Ingrid Croce will move her restaurant from the Gaslamp to the more receptive and dynamic Banker’s Hill. The area is a lively, youthful neighborhood that is excited for her arrival. The new venue will focus on the same Mediterranean cuisine, but in a small plates style allowing friends to mix and match their courses.

“Whether I am welcoming guests at the restaurant, designing menus, promoting live music, producing a CD or writing a new book, Croce’s is the center of my community and business. Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar has given me the opportunity to do all the things I love to do best.”

It is exciting to see how Ingrid has created an empire- an enterprising woman that we should be proud to call our neighbor.

Lidia S. Martinez
Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots
Southwest Airlines

Lidia S. Martinez 2014