Bang the Drum is searching for a new space — and its old spot will become housing, parking

Bang the Drum Brewery in San Luis Obispo will be moving from its current location to make way for a new mixed-use housing project on the property.

The brewery at 950 Orcutt Road is planning to relocate by February after a proposal for 78 homes, commercial and office space and a mechanical parking garage was approved by the city’s Planning Commission last week.

Bang the Drum, which opened its doors in August 2014, and has become a hub for locals and working people outside of the downtown. It regularly hosts bands, salsa dances, art shows, open mics, trivia nights and other events.

“We’re looking for a new place, and we would love to stay in SLO because this is where we established ourselves and where we have built our relationship with the community,” said 29-year-old owner Noelle DuBois.

Owner Noelle DuBois, here with her dog, Porter, needs to find a new home for Bang the Drum Brewery. Nick Wilson

DuBois and her late father, Gary DuBois, an architect who died of cancer in April, transformed an old warehouse into a homey pub and outdoor patio with a stage.

Some compare the interior to sailing in a ship, where recycled wood materials and ropes to support lighting and barrels for decor give it a maritime feel, DuBois said.

“What I’m going to try to do is channel my father as we look for a new place,” DuBois said. “He loved to be able to take a look at a building or a new spot and think of what it would take to turn its look around.”

DuBois said that despite having a “soft spot” for its Orcutt Road location near the train tracks, finding a new space could be a “blessing in disguise” because the brewery is starting to outgrow its quarters, making it difficult to keep up with the demand of brewing its most popular beers.

The new development project’s applicant Andrew Fuller is taking over the property from the current owner, Keith Godfrey, who operates Box Kite Barnyard, located adjacent to Bang the Drum, DuBois said.

At a meeting Wednesday, the Planning Commission approved the project pending further review by the city’s Architectural Review Commission of some of the proposed project’s design features, such as the mechanical parking garage, a 35-foot tall, 300-foot long structure facing the train tracks.

Mechanical parking lifts use an automated system to stack cars and use space more efficiently.

Bang Drum kelly brewing
Kelly Edward is the head brewer at Bang the Drum Brewery in San Luis Obispo. Joe Johnston

The commission voted 3-1 (with three commissioners absent), with Chuck Stevenson dissenting, to approve the project, despite concerns among multiple commissioners that it crams too many buildings into a 2-acre space and presents a massive, bulky look to train riders at a key entrance point to the city.

But Fuller argued at the meeting that the project met all of the city’s policy guidelines and thus satisfies the standards for California’s Housing Accountability Act, designed to permit projects that meet the community’s zoning and general plan criteria.

“The concerns raised by the members of the Planning Commission in relation to subject or other concerns, they are not objective standards that can be used to deny or reduce the size of the project,” Fuller said. “The Planning Commission risks subjecting the city to significant legal liability if it does not approve the proposed project.”

No date has been set for the Architectural Review Commission hearing, according to city officials. The project could be appealed to the City Council for further review, but no appeal has been filed thus far.

Nick Wilson: 805-781-7922, @NickWilsonTrib