It’s been more than three years since Aaron Dean set out to build one of the most ambitious singularly-owned hospitality projects in La Mesa’s history. The concept included eateries, a distillery, a public-event space for musical performances and a brewery branded as Depot Springs Beer Co. Despite his family having owned the project-site section of the Fletcher Parkway shopping center where construction was taking place and support from the City of La Mesa, development of the brewery component has been sporadic as Dean faced numerous hurdles, including development of the necessary capital to realize his multi-pronged vision. Now it would appear Depot Springs may never make it from dream status to reality, at least not under Dean.
Commercial real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield is currently shopping the 70%-complete facility as a “permitted brewery opportunity.” An informational brochure includes conceptual drawings and photos of equipment within the unutilized brewery. Sources with knowledge of the project had conveyed that Dean had shut down work on Depot Springs after running out of money to put toward it and was seeking additional funding.
Initial inquiries to Dean were met with optimism and his belief that a “good ending” was still in the cards. He still believes that and, though he wishes he could be the one to bring a brewery to the space, he says at this point he will be just as content to sit across the bar and patronize the eventual beer business that goes in, even if it isn’t his own. He cites multiple added and costly change orders as the main reason for his decision to put the project up for sale. As noted in the aforementioned brochure, the Depot Springs facility is approximately 3,600 square feet with $700,000 of brewery equipment available for separate purchase.
Over the past two years, Dean was able to open Sheldon’s Service Station eatery and Blvd Noodles (which is now City Tacos Village Tequileria). Along the way, Dean brought aboard numerous high-profile employees, many of which have departed, including head brewer Stuart Long, who now heads Voyageur Brewing in Grand Marais, Minnesota; executive chef Matt Richman who moved on to The Lot; and distiller Phillip Soto Mares who is now heading Oceanside tequila operation The Bad Stuff.