It’s official: Big changes are coming for SLO Brewing Co.
San Luis Obispo’s well-known concert venue and first post-Prohibition brewpub is moving and expanding this summer and fall.
“(SLO Brew) has to be retrofitted, that’s the main reason we had to move out in the first place,” co-owner Rodney Cegelski said.
SLO Brew, which has been serving beer and burgers on Garden Street since 1988 and has hosted concerts from Snoop Dogg to Sublime, will be moving to Higuera Street in January with a short closure toward the end of December for remodel.
When it reopens, it will have two new additions: The Rock and The Lofts. The Brew — the restaurant and bar — and The Lofts will be located on Higuera Street with a creekside patio and lodging for guests visiting San Luis Obispo. The Rock will be a brewery centered around a large boulder near the San Luis Obispo airport.
Cegelski hopes that with these new locations, SLO Brew can focus more on rebuilding its brand and reestablishing beer sales in local stores, the bar’s original motives.
SLO Brew was the first and most widely distributed micro brew on the Central Coast, Cegelski said. People from all over the nation knew and loved SLO Brew beer, he said.
The old SLO Brew might be missed, but there is a lot in store for the future, sales manager John Nguyen said. He went on to say that after working hard to overcome limitations such as the pole in middle of the old SLO Brew stage, the new facilities are what SLO Brew deserves but never had.
The Brew will be the main restaurant and bar downtown. The new location will continue to have the popular Pint Night, pool tables, a dance floor and concerts. It will be one level, but concerts will be “more intimate,” Cegelski said.
Contrary to what people have said, there will still be concerts held at The Brew, Cegelski said. The Brew will only be able to hold 330 people, compared to the 400 SLO Brew currently holds for concerts. There may not be as many concerts, but on the nights without live music Cegelski plans to have other events such as hip-hop night.
“We never intended to kill the music,” he said.
But because of the change of size, concert prices could be higher.
There will be some other major changes to the The Brew atmosphere. For example, an outside patio will be perched above the San Luis Obispo Creek, and will have fire pits for people to sit around and listen to music. The Brew will also be enhancing its food and beer with an upgraded menu. Cegelski said they are even designing their own self-serve beer booths and a private whiskey lounge.
And that’s just the bottom floor.
The Lofts will be above the restaurant; it will be part of the “San Luis Obispo experience,” Cegelski said, where anyone from musicians to parents of Cal Poly students may stay.
Guests will go up the elevator to four soundproof rooms. Each room will include laundry machines and kitchens, and two rooms will have their own decks. Outside will be a private rooftop deck overlooking the music venue for people to relax and listen to the music playing downstairs.
For those who are less interested in the culture and lodging aspects, there is an additional location aimed more at the beer crowd.
SLO Brew is introducing its new brewery, The Rock, where most of the beer will be brewed — as well as its new SLO Brew Rye Whiskey.
Currently, SLO Brew is on its second batch of whiskey, which is aging in barrels. The first batch is being served at the current location on Garden Street.
The whiskey is brewed using the same kettle as the craft beer. Once the beer reaches the point of carbonation, the Re:Find Distillery in Paso Robles distills it into a clear spirit. As the whiskey ages and turns a golden amber, it soaks up vanilla, caramel and maple flavors, with the end result being a rich, warm, oaky whiskey.
Patrons will be able to play games like bocce ball and Ping-Pong and possibly even rock climb while enjoying their beverages, Cegelski said.
Approval for the brewery is set, and permits are awaiting approval for the venue, but plans for The Brew to be in the heart of downtown are set and in motion.
Architecture senior Kendra Gartrell works downtown as a bartender and said San Luis Obispo nightlife is unique because of how many bars are in such close proximity to each other. SLO Brew will be moving even closer to the true downtown experience, she said.
“It’s more the go-to part of downtown,” Gartrell said.
As Cegelski gets ready for the big move, he is most looking forward to reinventing the SLO Brew experience.
“We hope to handcraft the SLO experience — brewing it with good times and good spirits,” he said.