Modern Times restaurant gets unanimous approval

ENCINITAS — A San Diego brewery’s plans for a restaurant in downtown Encinitas received a unanimous endorsement from the Encinitas Planning Commission. 

Modern Times originally proposed a large tasting room in a former retail space on Coast Highway 101 and D Street. The commission pulled the plans in October 2017 amid concern from the community and sheriff’s department that the tasting room would exacerbate downtown’s current issues with alcohol-serving establishments, specifically in that quadrant of downtown.

The brewery returned to the commission Jan. 18 and with little debate and public comment, the commission voted 5-0 to approve the reconfigured proposal, which calls for a full-service restaurant open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

“You listened to what everyone had to say, and I think you did the honorable thing pulling back from the appeal and coming back with a restaurant,” Commissioner Al Apuzzo said. “I know the first time you were up here it was a very challenging night for some of us, but I appreciate what you did and I think you did the right thing.”

A divided commission voted 3-2 in July 2017 approving the tasting room plans, but a citizens group called the Encinitas Citizens Committee appealed the approval to the City Council on Aug. 17. 

The council was set to hear the appeal in October when Modern Times withdrew the application and revised it to address some of the community concerns. 

After hearing a report about the plan from Modern Times general counsel David Israel and a handful of residents, the commission voted to approve the project with an added condition that the restaurant annually submit quarterly reports of beer and food sales. 

Commissioners said the condition allows the city to track if the restaurant is behaving like a restaurant and not like a bar, which would have lopsided alcohol sales receipts. The commission previously added this condition to Union Kitchen and Tap’s request for an outdoor patio.

The commission later asked staff to return with an item that would add the condition to future alcohol-serving establishments. 

“I think it’s high time we did it,” Commissioner Bruce Ehlers said. 

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