Business

Even with lofts, bar and a new restaurant, SLO Brew has ‘plenty of room to grow’

The Rock’s restaurant and taproom are now open at SLO Brew’s new facility near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
The Rock’s restaurant and taproom are now open at SLO Brew’s new facility near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.

SLO Brew has opened a restaurant and tasting room at The Rock, its new brewery near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, while work continues on the concert and event space across the courtyard.

The Rock, at 855 Aerovista Place off Broad Street, features casual indoor and outdoor seating with roll-up doors, a long bar for sampling SLO Brew’s beers and a small retail area, all framed by the giant rock that prompted the location’s name.

Owners Rodney Cegelski and Hamish Marshall are still putting in finishing touches at the restaurant, including painting the interior and installing firepits and other landscaping outside. But the taps are flowing and the eatery is serving lunch daily, snacks throughout the day and dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

Within a few weeks, the courtyard will be transformed into a beer garden with Oktoberfest-style tables imported from Germany, shade sails and string lights with an Oyler smoker cooking up brisket, pulled pork, chicken and sausage in the corner. The outdoor area will also feature family-friendly games including giant Jenga, cornhole and bocce.

While SLO Brew plans to offer some live acoustic music by the rock outside the counter-service eatery, there’s no firm date for the opening of the adjacent building, which will eventually accommodate up to 600 people for concerts and events.

“We’re working through it and getting it done,” Cegelski said. SLO Brew officials declined to share their investment in the project or any sales and revenue figures.

The Rock is the most recent debut from SLO Brew, which opened a new downtown brewpub, concert space and creekside patio at 736 Higuera St. in June, followed shortly by stylish second-floor suite accommodations called The Lofts. The downtown opening came about six months after the closing of its iconic Garden Street location dating to 1988.

“It’s a different crowd out here,” Cegelski said. “In the evening, it’s all families with kids running around.”

The smokehouse-focused taproom menu also offers a range of salads and wraps at lunch to appeal to local office workers, upscale fare such as steak, salmon and mussels at dinner, as well as shareable snack plates.

More than a dozen beers crafted on-site by brewmaster Steve Courier are available as pints, flights or growlers to go. The brewery also features an impressive wine list, with a focus on European wines and a few selections from Paso Robles, Napa and Sonoma.

“We didn’t want to offer the same wines you can get right down the road in Edna Valley,” General Manager Todd Brown said. “We wanted a focus on Old World wines that go well with our smokehouse offerings.”

The 30-barrel capacity brewery has been operating for six months, brewing beers for the downtown pub and now the Rock, as well as four core beers being distributed in kegs and cans around the Central Coast.

The brewery’s Blueberry Blonde Ale will be available in cans starting March 31, the first of seasonal canned releases. The brewery has also launched a new Brew Club, offering merchandise, discounts, special events and releases for $99 a year.

Down the road, a whiskey still for making SLO Brew Rye, now made in collaboration with Re:Find Distillery in Paso Robles, will be added to the brewhouse, with its own separate tasting area.

“The great thing here is we have plenty of room to grow as we need it,” said Johnny Kenny, who oversees SLO Brew’s marketing and live music.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter@sallybuffalo.

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