Biz Buzz: Weyrich tasting room finds buyer

Los Angeles-based San Antonio Winery has bought David Weyrich’s Martin & Weyrich tasting room at Buena Vista and Highway 46 in Paso Robles.

The tasting room was part of the Martin & Weyrich real estate that creditors had foreclosed upon in February because of an estimated $17 million in unpaid debts.

San Antonio Winery, which was founded in 1917 and bottles about 500,000 cases of wine a year, has used San Luis Obispo County grapes for some of its wines since the 1950s, said Steve Riboli, vice president and one of the owners of the winery.

Riboli said the company had been looking to increase its visibility and sell directly to its customers in San Luis Obispo’s community for the past six or seven years.

The Martin & Weyrich tasting room fits San Antonio’s Tuscan-themed branding and will fit in easily with the style of the company’s other two tasting rooms in Los Angeles and Ontario, he added.

In 2004, The Tribune said entering the tasting room was like “crossing the Atlantic. The Tuscan feel emanates from the warm-toned walls and the Mediterranean floor tiles, as well as roosters scattered throughout.”

Although the lending firm Aegon had foreclosed on other Martin & Weyrich holdings, including the luxury bed and breakfast Villa Toscana, the Martin & Weyrich and York Mountain wineries, and several hundred acres of vineyards, the Ribolis were interested only in the tasting room.

“We had our mind set on one tasting room and didn’t need anything else,” he said. “We have a 2 million gallon bottling facility in (Los Angeles), we’re partners with SVP (Winery) in Shandon, and are full up in vineyards.”

Riboli declined to disclose the purchase price, though he said that it was “somewhere around the $2 million to $3 million range.”

“Let’s just say we had a very easy offer with no strings attached, and we’re looking forward to the community getting to know us,” he said.

The new San Antonio tasting room at 2601 Buena Vista Drive in Paso Robles is set to open at the beginning of November.

The winery will offer two types of tasting: one with no charge and another for artisan or reserve wines that rotate every month for a tasting charge of $8 to $10 a glass.

— Melanie Cleveland

Sizzler making way for In-N-Out Burger

Crews on Wednesday tore down the old Sizzler restaurant building in Arroyo Grande’s Five Cities Center off West Branch Street to clear the site for construction of a planned In-N-Out Burger.

The Irvine-based hamburger chain is expected to open a 3,265-square-foot restaurant that is to include an outdoor patio area with 10 tables by Thanksgiving, Arroyo Grande Planning Manager Jim Bergman said Wednesday.

The city Planning Commission approved the project in December.

The drive-through restaurant is to have a 1,990-square-foot public area. The remaining 1,275 square feet would be for food preparation and employee use.

A company representative could not be reached for comment.

Sizzler franchise owner Arnie Wiese closed the restaurant in March 2009 after serving steaks, seafood, all-you-can-eat salad and combination dinners such as steak and Malibu chicken at that location for 23 years.

He cited then-rising food costs and consumers cutting back on eating out in the recession, seeking discounts that made it tough for him to raise prices.

The five-year lease option on the restaurant site was up for renewal, and Wiese decided not to renew it.

— Antonio A. Prado and Cynthia Lambert