Wine & Beer

Popular Morro Bay brewery opening new, larger location on the Embarcadero

The popular Three Stacks and a Rock Brewing Company is remodeling and planning to move into the old Morro Bay aquarium site on the Embarcadero in the city’s downtown.

The brewery, which currently operates on Main Street in North Morro Bay, has entered into a lease agreement with the city, which includes improving the building space where the old aquarium, operated by the Tyler family for 60 years, shut down in 2018.

Chuck Nettnin, who owns Three Stacks with his wife Ananda, said they plan to operate at least three to five years at the 595 Embarcadero space, and possibly beyond, as the Central Coast Aquarium continues to plan and raise money for a new multi-million dollar aquarium facility at the same site.

Morro Bay officials said in a staff report that “even should the Central Coast Aquarium project be successful in funding and building a new aquarium on this lease site, that project is a minimum of three, and likely more, years out from breaking ground.”

The Nettnins hope to open the new Three Stacks location by May 2020 after several significant tenant improvements are completed, Chuck Nettnin said.

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Chuck Nettnin and his wife, Ananda are the owners of Three Stacks and a Rock in Morro Bay. Joe Johnston

“We’ve been growing faster than anticipated,” Nettnin said. “This new space will give us more room, and there’s obviously a lot of tourism on that side of town.”

Christine Johnson, executive director of the nonprofit Central Coast Aquarium, which operates an existing aquarium in Avila Beach, said the organization is pleased to see a business go in at the site and help to bring activity and vitality to that part of the Embarcadero.

“We are happy to see a new business moving in and bringing success to that part of the downtown,” Johnson said. “We won’t be ready for at least a few years, and we think it’s great Three Stacks is moving in.”

Nettnin said their current location at 3118 Main St., Suite D, opens at 4 p.m. because it serves primarily local, working customers who come in later in the day.

The Main Street location will continue to stay open in the near future, and the Nettnins will assess options for keeping both locations.

But the new Embarcadero commercial space will allow for earlier hours of operation and reaching a new customer base.

Improvements include installing brewing and food operations; enlarging the restroom; constructing a deck over the old seal tanks and complying with Americans with Disabilities Act standards at the facility’s deck and bathroom locations.

“It will offer plenty of space for a nice tasting room,” Nettnin said. “We’ll be enlarging the room by removing one of the walls, and the outside patio is going to be huge.”

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Three Stacks and a Rock in Morro Bay opened for business on Main Street in 2016, and its owners Chuck and Ananda Nettnin purchased it in 2017. Joe Johnston

The agreement with the city is for a first-year, $23,000 lease, kicking in Dec. 1, with a rent-free period until then as significant renovation takes place. The price is negotiable and renewable each year after.

In addition, the city will incur an estimated $7,000 to $10,000 in necessary building improvements to get the space ready for occupancy.

The city of Morro Bay also will remove old aquarium fish tanks and ensure code-compliance of the various electrical panels and components, among other improvements.

Three Stacks, which is pet friendly, opened in 2016 under different ownership, and the Nettnins purchased it in 2017. The “nano brewery” makes around seven to eight house beers and offers guest taps, including cider and wine. The business just started limited distribution of its beers, as well, Nettin said.

Three Stacks currently sells food such as pub chips, sliders, sausages and prosciutto grilled cheese.

“At the new location, we’re going to have a kitchen but a different kind of food,” Nettnin said. “When people find out what it will be, I think they’ll think it’s a great idea.”

Morro Bay’s City Council approved the agreement on Aug. 13, after considering a staff recommendation that stated “beer tourism now rivals wine tasting in terms of general popularity, and Three Stacks, the only brewery currently brewing in Morro Bay, is a good fit on the tourist-oriented Embarcadero.”

City officials wrote that Three Stacks has built “a dedicated following in their relatively short period of time operating in Morro Bay.”

Nettnin said Three Stacks has been active in supporting community causes, such as Project Surf Camp, Morro Bay Open Space Alliance and a UC Davis program that conducts cancer research for dogs.

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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.