Restaurant News & Reviews

SLO Brew’s downtown location has a new name, menu — and look

SLO Brew in San Luis Obispo’s downtown announced last month it was changing its name — and next week it will open to the public with a fresh new look, name and menu.

The Carrisa by SLO Brew showcased its new interior design Friday, offering a sneak peak at the Higuera Street location that was originally home to The Carrisa Cattle Company in 1905.

The re-branded venue is redesigned to offer a comfortable, lounge atmosphere that invites customers to spend leisurely time by outdoor fire pits or sip mixed drinks on soft teak couches just around the corner from Mission de Tolosa, according to its owners.

The bar ended its live music late last year (instead hosting live music at The SLO Brew Rock near the airport), and it will feature only deejay events moving forward as it strives for an “all-inclusive customer experience” catering to families, workers, as well as younger patrons, said co-owner Hamish Marshall.

He said he expects an environment where people can converse, dine and taste spirits in a relaxed atmosphere

The space also offers a lighter, brighter feel with softer interior colors, including original white-washed brick walls, narrow wood-plank flooring and pressed tin ceilings, Marshall said. Cherisse Sweeney, of Basalt Interiors, designed the new interior.

“When we first opened here (in 2016), we were trying to be too many things, and we were listening to too many people to try to make everyone happy,” Marshall said. “This is a different vibe, but still has something for everyone — families and the young and the old.”

Marshall said that after opening and operating the The Rock, he and co-owner Rodney Cegelski wanted to adopt a similar atmosphere at The Carrisa they believe will be more successful in attracting a broader cross-section of tourists, locals and students.

The former SLO Brew bar in downtown San Luis Obispo has a new design and menu and has been rebranded as The Carrisa by SLO Brew. David Middlecamp

The partners also have brought on Milton Carrillo and Cody Conti, longtime restaurant managers who came over from the Eureka Burger franchise, into their ownership group.

During the time SLO Brew had its alcohol license suspended for a violation due to an underage drinking incident, the business shut down to remodel and revise its menu, hiring several new employees. The Carrisa employs about 100 people, 70 of whom were recently hired.

The business continues will continue to hire new staff as needed.

“Our menu offers a lot of affordable a la carte options, including many taco options,” Carrillo said. “The tacos are amazing, and they all have a little bit of a pop to them. They have a spice or some kind of interesting flavor that makes them stand out.”

Other food options include fresh Alaskan halibut and wild king salmon, along with ahi tuna and short-rib bowls with rice and vegetables. A selection of soups and salads are are also available, veering from a past menu that was more focused on heavier pub foods. Meals range from $12 to $30.

Cauliflower tacos with a cashew crema is one of the dishes on the menu at the former SLO Brew bar in downtown San Luis Obispo, which has a new design and menu and has been rebranded as The Carrisa by SLO Brew. David Middlecamp

Mixed drinks include negronis, smoked old fashioneds and Manhattans, among other options, ranging from $10 to $12.

A variety of appetizers include garlic noodles, blow torched albacore, avocado toast and edamame — mostly in the $6 to $12 range.

Carrillo said he’ll be at the business on a regular basis monitoring the service and quality.

Cegeski said that one of the reasons for the quieter atmosphere inside was to not disturb guests upstairs at The Lofts, the five second-story hotel suites located above the restaurant and bar operated by Carrisa as well.

“People were hearing the thumping of the beats down below and the live music and this is just a better set-up for us all the way around,” Cegelski said.

Marshall said The Carrisa would be open to the public by mid-next week, but a specific day is still undetermined as the owners put the finishing touches on the remodel.

A mezzanine level overlooks the main dining room offers a pool table, tabletop shuffleboard and a flat screen TV; it’s available for private parties, meetings and reservations.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.