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SLO Brew closing as it prepares to move to new spot downtown

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SLO Brew on Garden Street is expected to close its doors on Jan. 1, before moving to a new location on Higuera Street. The new spot is scheduled to open in March 2016.
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SLO Brew on Garden Street is expected to close its doors on Jan. 1, before moving to a new location on Higuera Street. The new spot is scheduled to open in March 2016.

It’s out with the old and in with the new for SLO Brew — the nightclub and restaurant will shut its downtown doors Friday as the company prepares to open its new location on Higuera Street in March.

The business will be closed for about two months as the company moves from its Garden Street location around the corner to 736 Higuera St., where a retrofit of the historic Carissa Building is finally complete.

The current venue is closing to make way for the Garden Street Terraces project: 93,425 square feet of commercial, residential and hotel space.

The new SLO Brew includes 6,500 square feet on the first floor with a restaurant, bar and concert stage, plus an outdoor dining patio with fire pits. It will also feature a mezzanine level for guests to watch the concert stage from a VIP area.

“It will be smaller, more intimate,” owner Hamish Marshall said Wednesday, noting that capacity will be about 300 people, compared with the current location’s 437 people.

We’re trying to create that synergy between the three business entities. It’s actually what we are. We are a brewery. We are a music venue. We are a nightclub. So it’s going to be a really dynamic situation.

Rodney Cegelski, SLO Brew co-owner

Marshall stressed that that didn’t mean the business, which has long been an integral part of the local music scene, would shrink its musical offerings.

“The music isn’t going away,” he said. “I think what this means is we can be more disciplined about who is playing and where they are playing.”

The new SLO Brew will have a similar vibe as the old location — “Where cowboys meet surfers is how I see it,” co-owner Rodney Cegelski said — and will feature much of the same decor as the old site, including the stage’s signature red curtains.

The second floor at the new location will feature five hotel lofts, with two and three bedrooms, for what the owners are calling “urban lodging,” plus the Carissa Club, named after the building, with a boardroom, fireplace and bar featuring SLO Brew beer.

“That upstairs, we originally hoped could be the concert venue, but financially, there was no way that would work,” Cegelski said. “This is something, say you have a wedding or a family of 30 all getting together — you could rent the whole place and stay here. That’s really what the Brew is about, those special occasions.”

The business’ expansion will add some new features to the downtown area, Cegelski said, while expanding on the company’s existing image.

“We’re trying to create that synergy between the three business entities,” he said. “It’s actually what we are. We are a brewery. We are a music venue. We are a nightclub. So it’s going to be a really dynamic situation and something that we don’t think the downtown has right now.”

Marshall and Cegelski will also open another SLO Brew venture in March, one that will allow the company to expand its brewery business, as well as add more restaurant and entertainment options.

The Rock — a 12,000-square-foot brewery, tasting room and event venue next to the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport — will feature a new 30-barrel brewing system that would eventually allow Marshall and Cegelski to ramp up their beer production to 150,000 barrels a year. Marshall has previously said he aims to produce up to 2,500 to 3,000 barrels a year by the end of 2015 and 5,000 a year by the end of 2017.

The existing brewery at SLO Brew will be moved over to the new Higuera location and will continue to be used for the company’s “experimentation” and testing of new brews.

Beside the brewery, The Rock will feature a restaurant, similar to SLO Brew’s, although the fare will likely be slightly simpler, Marshall said.

It could also be where the company hosts the majority of its national acts, he said, because of its outdoor event space, while the downtown pub could be more of a hub for local musicians and acts. Marshall said attendance at an outdoor event would be capped at about 600 people.

“At the end of the day, we are excited about it,” he said of both projects. “We’re just stoked.”

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