Friday, February 5, 2021

Breweryless La Jolla

I drove around downtown La Jolla last night and saw that Karl Strauss has closed its space, and that CAVU Brewing is closed, too. There is a big For Rent banner flying in front of CAVU and legal notices posted on the door. It is kind of a bummer that La Jolla has lost its two breweries. I know La Jolla's "Village" is not, and has never been, a San Diego craft beer destination - breakfast is where La Jolla shines. Still, it is depressing and sad that there are no breweries in downtown La Jolla at all anymore. The one bit of good news is that Public House La Jolla is still open and looks like it is doing solid business. Public House has a great selection of draft and bottled beer, including a fine selection of Belgian beers.

It always amazes me how dead quiet downtown La Jolla is at night, especially given that so many people live in or within easy walking distance of La Jolla Village. La Jolla's sparse nightlife was true before COVID-19. (The Beer Rovette and I made an early evening stop into Karl Strauss in the fall of 2019 and there were like seven patrons there, including us, and given the time of day and staff on hand it was not just an off night.) The same few of places always seem busy - like Taco Shop and Puesto - while others languish, waiting for guests that never arrive. I don't expect another brewery or tasing room to open in La Jolla anytime soon.

(In addition to the Karl Strauss and CAVU locations, there is a large number of empty business space in La Jolla. I don't know the full reason why, but I suspect a combination of COVID-19 and rent increases. I fail to see who benefits if landlords keep raising rents to a point that tenants are forced to leave, but then landlords can't re-lease the space because the rent is too high. Businesses are disrupted and landlords get no rental income. Long-term vacancies are a community blight and feed a decline. The City should impose some kind of vacancy tax to incentivize landlords to get space leased.)