Biz Buzz: Wineman Hotel marks its opening

The newly refurbished Wineman Hotel marked its grand opening Wednesday with the lighting of the newly installed, historic marquee sign on Higuera and Chorro streets.

The mixed-use building at 839-849 Higuera St. has been undergoing a seismic-safety retrofit and renovation since mid-February. After about 15 years without residents, the second and third floors now offer 47 mixed-income studio apartments ranging in size from 160 to 230 square feet and subsidized so that the rents will be between $580 and $850 per month.

Twenty-seven of the units are low income and available for those earning a maximum annual income of $39,650. Three will be very-low income, or affordable to individuals earning a maximum annual income of $24,800. Seventeen will be available at market rate for those who have a maximum annual income of $59,450.

Ground-floor occupants will include Muzio’s Grocery & Deli, relocating from its original home on Monterey Street; the national restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill; and a wine bar.

Five parking spaces have been eliminated near the building to accommodate sidewalk dining, and an interior courtyard featuring a fountain and greenery is still under construction.

Architect Craig Smith has restored the hotel to simulate the architectural style of the original hotel opened by the Wineman Family in 1930.

New kitchenettes and tile bathrooms are combined with original wood floors, wood trim and a grand staircase.

The three-story building is owned by 21 people, including Wineman heirs; the lease-holder on the building is Ali Vahdani, a Southern California-based structural engineer who has worked on other San Luis Obispo retrofitting projects.

— Julia Hickey

Double D Feed to shutter its doors

Double D Feed and Supply, an animal feed store in San Luis Obispo for at least 20 years, will close its doors at the end of December.

Dan and Toni Hock, the store’s owners since 2001, said the business had been dying a “slow death” for several years.

Double D, located at 202 Tank Farm Road, specialized in animal feed and supplies for large and small animals and has had a small clothing department as well. Double D did not do farm-equipment repairs and did not have a garden department, like some of its competitors such as Farm Supply located nearby on Tank Farm, Dan Hock said.

The couple, who sold the Nuseals business on Zaca Lane several years ago, had bought the Double D business because Toni Hock had horses, and the couple wanted to give her mother, who was moving from Los Angeles, a business to run, Dan Hock said.

The store has not made money since they bought it, but it had “held its own” for the first couple of years of business, Dan Hock said.

The business’s bottom line started taking a toll when the price of gas surged a few years ago, and vendors put gasoline surcharges on their shipments.

“Our profit margin on feed was 30 to 40 percent, and that went down to 10 or 15 percent,” he said.

With the slow economy and pet store chains such as Lemos, Petco and Petsmart competing for business, Double D did not have enough customers to justify staying open, he said.

“People are giving up their animals, like horses, in this economy,” Dan Hock said. “I’m surprised the other stores have survived.”

One full-time and two part-time employees will lose their jobs with the closure, he said.

Everything in the store is now being sold at a discount. Western wear is going on sale for 50 percent off; the feed is being sold for at least a 10 percent discount, he said.

With Double D gone, the Hocks are turning their full attention to several other businesses they have started: Zumer Sports, which sells sports bags and wallets made out of sports ball materials, and Central Coast Sports Cards, which operated in the Double D store.

Both of those enterprises are housed in the former Running Warehouse building at 735 Buckley Road. The goods are also sold on the Internet, Dan Hock said.

The Hocks will also continue to run their charitable organization, the Hock Family Foundation, and its Christmas toy drive called Cheer for Children, which gives gifts to hospitalized children who do not have homes to return to for the holidays, he said.

The Double D warehouse’s new tenant will be Wagner’s Import Service Center, said Dave Martindale, its leasing agent. That business, owned by Chuck Wagner, will move from its location at 3285 S. Higuera St. to the Tank Farm Road location sometime in February or March after the warehouse is retrofitted as an auto repair shop, Wagner said.

— Melanie Cleveland