Shark Tank survivor helps take bite out of blight

Barrel Republic's effort to expand on Garnet thwarted

1253 Garnet Avenue
  • 1253 Garnet Avenue

The 55-foot storefront at 1253 Garnet Avenue has had plastic, wood, and graffiti-covered windows for a long time, said everyone I asked. Those who have been doing business on the same block say the building has been sitting empty for at least a decade.

An employee of Sprouts, directly across the street, remembers seeing a sign for a Brazilian restaurant going up in 2006 — and it came down without the establishment ever opening its doors. Before that there was a furniture store (the Comfort Zone).

The new tenant is Tower Paddle Boards. They will be moving from their current location behind Yogurtland at 845 Garnet. The local paddleboard manufacturing company received national attention in 2012 when CEO Stephan Aarstol appeared on the television show Shark Tank and billionaire investor Mark Cuban made a $150,000 investment for 30 percent of the take.

Tony Franco is the local realtor who brokered the new lease agreement between Tower and the owners, John and Lena Pernicano — the same Pernicanos who own the Italian restaurant that has been on Turquoise for more than 50 years.

Barrel Republic

1261 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach

Franco came into the picture back in May when the owner of Barrel Republic, a pour-your-own beer pub, wanted help subleasing their part (3213 square feet) of the building on Garnet. The rest of the 7500-square-foot space is occupied by a tattoo parlor and the property management/branding company named Eat Drink Sleep.

Barrel Republic gave up on the plan to expand next door

Barrel Republic gave up on the plan to expand next door

Barrel Republic had leased the space in October 2014 to expand their operations next door. After more than a year and a half of trying to enlarge the footprint of their beer and wine license, they gave up the fight. Franco blames Scott Chipman and his group SavePB. Franco said that Chipman protests anyone who applies for a liquor license in Pacific Beach.

“Wonderful restaurateurs want to open up here," says Franco, "but in order to open up a restaurant, they at least need a beer and wine license. As the barriers of entry increases, the supply of licenses and good restaurants begins to shrink. As the supply of licenses shrinks, the value of [state Alcoholic Beverage Control] licenses increases. I’ve seen them sell for as much as $1 million....

"What’s happening is out-of-town businessmen are buying up all the licenses and creating a monopoly of establishments filled with cheap experiences for patrons. Folks in their 20s are literally standing in ridiculously long lines in a handful of bars, and families that actually spend money have limited options to eat at with a pleasant atmosphere."

With a number of breweries opening in Ocean Beach, I checked in with a handful of new or soon-to-be new beer saloons to ask if they tried to first open up in Pacific Beach. Negative on that from all I spoke with.

A representative for the soon-to-be opened Killowatt Beer in Ocean Beach said they have had only one protester.

Mike Hess Brewing opened up on Voltaire in 2015. Hess said while he didn’t have any Ocean Beach residents protesting, the opening of his North Park brewery in 2013 was a different story. “There was a semi-retired fella that took it upon himself to protest all liquor licenses in North Park,” said Hess. “He kept us from opening for more than five months.” Hess said the delay cost him $300,000.

Regarding Barrel Republic, John Carr from the state bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control said there is no record of the brewery having been associated with 1253 Garnet.

“Possibly, they submitted something to the city prior to an ABC application being filed,” said Carr.

The only record he could find for 1253 Garnet was a 2013 application to transfer a license from Moondoggies aka “The Dog” at 4479 Everts Street in Pacific Beach to 1253 Garnet. Brett Miller is listed as the licensee. Miller is the tenant who rents the back portion of 1253 Garnet (Eat Drink Sleep). The application was withdrawn for unknown reasons, said Carr.

There may have been other liquor licenses and applications associated with 1253 in the past, but according to Carr, any records that are inactive for more than three years are purged and thus unsearchable.

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A vacant location in a bustling business district that has been empty "for at least a decade", and owned by people named Pernicano. Sound familiar? Not-so-far-away Hillcrest has been cursed by two restaurant locations, vacant and unused for a quarter century, that once were operated by the Pernicano patriarch, the late George, who steadfastly refused to rent them, sell them, or develop them. So what goes with this family that sits on empty real estate, paying taxes (and presumably some minimal upkeep) for years on end? I'd guess they don't need the money, and really don't care. Puzzling, isn't it?

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