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Council ‘hops’ on opp to open craft beer shop

SOLANA BEACH — A craft beer bottle shop and tasting room is on tap for Solana Beach after City Council unanimously approved its permit at the Feb. 26 meeting.

San Diego BeerWorks will take over the first-floor space previously occupied by Cupcake Love in the Beachwalk Center at 437 S. Coast Highway 101, Ste. 107.

Most of the 1,550-square-foot facility will feature a tasting area, with a bar and casual seating for about 30 patrons, retail space and beverage display cases.

John Holko, who will own and operate the business with his wife, Jennifer Todd, said the focus will be exclusively on local craft beers.

“It’s hard to deny the momentum of the American craft beer that we’re seeing all throughout the United States, and particularly in California and San Diego,” Holko said, noting there are at least 83 breweries in the county. “San Diego actually really is ground zero for the American craft beer industry.

“Craft beer is on people’s radar,” he added. “People like and react to things that are considered local products. … We feel that there is something missing to have a really truly great beverage experience.”

That’s where BeerWorks comes in, Holko said. His goal is “to create an experience about all things San Diego.”

“We want to showcase San Diego craft beer,” he said. “We want to educate people about the brands … so when they purchase the products they’ll have a new understanding and a great experience with products that are local.”

BeerWorks will have five distinct seating areas, or “conversation nooks,” where people can interact, ask questions, learn about the products and discover which beers to pair with specific foods.

“We do feel it is something special and not just another store,” he said. It is also not a restaurant, but light snacks such as artisanal popcorn, beer pretzels and salumi will be available.

“We feel that it is important to have some type of food item there since we are serving alcohol,” he said.

There will also be a “hyper-rotating” sampling area, with different local beers featured weekly. Patrons can sample new beers before buying them, but no brewing will take place at the shop.

“The whole idea is to showcase the products so that people have a real interesting experience,” Holko said, adding that it will be “all San Diego centric so that every time you come in there’ll be something new and exciting, something that you cannot get a grocery store, something that you cannot get at other drinking establishments.”

Holko, who lives in Carlsbad, has 10 years of experience in the beverage industry. He spent the past five years commuting to San Francisco, working for the company that produces Corona Beer.

“I saw what was happening up there – people embracing craft beers,” he said. “But with all the brewing in San Diego, it seemed like a slam dunk to do something that combines the two down here.”

Holko said he is planning an April opening, with hours from 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday, although the current plan is to be closed Mondays and Tuesdays to allow for fundraisers or other group events.

“We are extremely excited about being a part of Solana Beach,” Holko said. “It’s great community.”

“I think that this is a … great business idea,” Councilman Peter Zahn said. “I think it fits well within the community as a whole. I think the applicants are really tapping into a trend that will attract people to our community and retain people in the community. I think there’s a great fit with the rest of the Solana Beach business community.”


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