The bar known to many Cal Poly students as Downtown Brewing Co. (DTB) has undergone some major changes within the last few months.
Downtown Brew owners Todd Newman and his wife Korie relinquished the historic building when their lease ended this past July to a new owner, SLO Pub, LLC — a local San Luis Obispo company. They are now working with Hamish Marshall, the vice president of West Pac Investments — the company that owns many of the buildings on Garden Street — to renovate the building DTB has been in for years.
Although the restaurant is no longer owned by the Newmans, previous owner Todd Newman was hired by SLO Pub, LLC as manager of operations for the venue. However, Korie Newman said in an e-mail that concertgoers can still expect the site to continue bringing in great entertainment despite the change of ownership.
Frequent DTB concertgoer and graphic communications junior Julianna Driskel said she isn’t worried that building changes will impact the venues atmosphere.
“I wouldn’t expect any changes,” Driskel said. “I doubt the vibe will change as long as they keep bringing in a pretty good lineup.”
One thing concert goers can expect is a name change. The new name of the bar and concert venue will be SLO Brewing Co., a name remembered by some San Luis Obispo locals because it was the original name of the venue when it was founded by Michael and Becky Hoffman in 1988. At the time, SLO Brew was known less for its concerts and more for its beer.
“When it was SLO Brew it was voted the best microbrew in the United States,” Todd Newman said.
The new owners wanted to bring back the roots of the venue, and felt the title change would emphasize the brew aspect, Todd Newman said.
When asked about the name change, Driskel said she will probably still find herself calling it DTB out of force of habit. As a transfer student from Santa Barbara — where there is another Downtown Brew — DTB comes naturally to her.
“I mean, I’m just used to saying that,” she said. “But SLO Brew definitely seems more authentic.”
There is one more major change going on at SLO Brewing Co.: a full renovation of the upstairs portion of the venue to improve all aspects of the restaurant area. Todd Newman said one of the main renovations will be an expanded brewing operation, along with new furnishings (fireplace included), a new menu, pool tables and a shuffle board.
“In 1998 the restaurant was built, and there have been no significant renovations since then,” Todd Newman said.
The need for restorations was felt among DTB customers as well. Kinesiology junior Malia Hohl particularly thought the upstairs portion was too small to serve its purpose and said she would be more likely to eat at the restaurant before a show if the upstairs was redone.
“It wasn’t the best dining experience,” Hohl said. “It was really small and couldn’t fit a lot of people.”
Downtown Brew has been a staple in the San Luis Obispo entertainment scene, and the main goal of the new renovations is to maintain its reputation as the place to go for a good show.
“It’s about time to bring it up to date and clean things up in the upstairs portion,” Todd Newman said.
Todd Newman said everyone at Downtown Brew is excited for the changes and are ready to embrace the SLO Brewing Co. culture. This includes putting the restaurant back on the map as a microbrewery powerhouse with the continued work of “Brew Master” Steve Courier.
“We are ready to make it a new and improved SLO Brew,” Newman said.
SLO Brewing Co. is still open in the evenings for concerts while it is under construction, but the grand opening after the finished renovations is tentatively set for Oct. 7 or Oct. 8.
“It’s an awesome place to check out a live show … and I see the atmosphere staying pretty much the same [after the renovations],” Hohl said.