Vista CA –From historic downtowns to industrial parks, craft breweries continue to tap into the thriving beer business. In fact, the craft beer market in 2019 brought in $29.3 billion, accounting for more than 25% of the $116 billion U.S. beer industry, according to the Brewers Association.
The potential for profit in the craft beer industry is indeed high, but startup and equipment costs can many times be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In order to help offset costs and grow the craft beverage industry, innovative business models have been popping up for breweries, wineries and distilleries alike.
As part of this trend, a unique space called Co-Lab Vista is set to open its doors in February 2021. With a total of 15,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor common space, Co-Lab Vista, visible from Interstate 78, will feature multiple award-winning craft beverage makers sharing a spacious tap/tasting room with an in-house restaurant. This innovative business model – the brainchild of Joe Deutsch and his team of partners and investors – is a first-of-its-kind in the region. For an animated walkthrough of Co-Lab Vista, click here.
While many breweries are focused on surviving the pandemic, others are looking to expand their footprint, minus the costs associated with building out a space. Hence the concept behind Co-Lab Vista.
“We developed the concept a few years ago as we watched brewers struggle with poor real estate concepts and no effective marketing plans. Too many were buried in the backs of industrial parks with little parking, small taprooms, expensive rent and no visibility,” said Deutsch, a commercial real estate developer based in Solana Beach. “Our facility is freeway-fronted with hundreds of parking spaces.”
Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, Co-Lab Vista will also have safety measures in place to keep staff and patrons safe. The two-story space includes ample outdoor areas, including a mezzanine. Deutsch is also working with a company in San Francisco called Far UV Technologies, whose light technology can safely autonomously and continuously disinfect any known virus, bacteria, or fungi in occupied spaces.
“The lights function like an LED bulb. We are looking into these for our tap room,” he said.
The two-story Co-Lab Vista will include 15,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor common space.
So far, three breweries will occupy Co-Lab Vista, including Barrel & Stave, a spin-off from the award-winning Wild Barrel Brewing in San Marcos; Breakwater Brewing, a 12-year-old award-winning brewhouse in Oceanside; and Laguna Beach Beer Co., whose Co-Lab Vista expansion will be its first entrance into the San Diego County craft beer market. Co-Lab Vista owners are still seeking a winery and eatery for the space.
For Chris White, co-owner of Wild Barrel Brewing and Barrel & Stave, a space like Co-Lab Vista is an exciting chance to showcase a variety of unique craft beers sans the costs associated with opening an entirely new brewery or tap room.
“Co-Lab is handling 90% of the buildout and putting in a brew system, which we will share with Breakwater,” he said. “A lot of time brew systems are underutilized, so sharing a brew system made sense. And we get to share the space with two other great breweries that already have a big draw. Patrons can come in and sample beers from three different breweries and a winery. I think this will be a successful project.”
Barrel & Stave, which also has a pourhouse in Fullerton, Calif., will feature 16 beers on tap by local award-winning homebrewer Chris Banker at the Co-Lab Vista location, such as lagers, hazy and West Coast IPA’s, and barrel aged stouts with hints of popular flavors like vanilla, coconut and maple.
“We want to offer beers that are currently hot right now,” said White, a former tech industry operations manager-turned brewery owner.
White and his partners also plan to open a tap room in Downtown Vista in late December or early January 2021. The brewery, once occupied by Mother Earth Brewing, will include 40 taps with local and hard-to-source craft beer, as well as kombucha, wine and hard seltzers, and packaged products to go that are not available in any liquor stores.
When asked about why he chose Vista to expand his breweries, White said it was a no-brainer. After all, Vista is the craft brewery capital of the US, with the most breweries per capita than any other city.
“Vista is known as a craft beer destination and it’s centrally located in North County,” White said. “There are a lot of great breweries here; we want to bring more good craft beer to Vista.”
Besides being at the center of “hops highway” universe, Vista has plenty of development opportunities, and the City is business friendly, said Deutsch.
“I’ve never had an easier city to deal with,” he said about Vista. “It’s always been an ideal place to develop.”
Deutsch added that he hopes the Vista location is the first of many Co-Labs across the region and even the country.
“With our real estate and operational cost advantages, we expect more brewers to take advantage of the savings and efficiencies our concept delivers. We would like more profit in the hands of craft brewers by driving sales through our large taproom. We’d love this concept to provide the degree of sales for the brewers that allow them to compensate their employees as full-time staff with benefits.”
Besides steady jobs, Co-Lab Vista – which revives an old industrial center originally built in the mid-1970s – is also expected to bring more visitors to the city while boosting surrounding businesses.
“Vista is an ideal place for breweries, which help spur the growth of related shopping and dining businesses and boost tourism in the region,” said Kevin Ham, Vista’s Economic Development Director. “The City takes the time to listen and assist businesses that create good paying jobs. We have also implemented several strategies to help support breweries and other local businesses during this uncertain time, including our Vista is Open campaign. We also encourage residents to continue to support our Vista businesses by shopping local.”