In June, we shared news that one of San Diego’s most decorated homebrewers was teaming with several businesses to open a collective in downtown Escondido that would include his foray into professional brewing. That combined interest would go by the name 141, with brewery Five Suits Brewing sharing a 14,000-square-foot, two-story space with Carlsbad-based Notorious Burgers, Good Omen Mead and Stoke Distilling. But today, Five Suits co-founder Nick Corona officially shared that he and two would-be partner companies have pulled out of the project.
“Five Suits identified several areas of concern that contributed to our decision. The first being centered around the restaurant entity, Notorious Burgers,” says Corona. “Due to tied-house laws, Notorious Burgers’ involvement in the project became uncertain. Soon thereafter, Stoke Distilling shared that they would not be moving forward with the project, basing their decision on serving limitations. Five Suits also recognized that projected expenses continued to increase as a large portion of the upgrades and renovations required to the multi-level building were centered around their involvement.”
Corona and his team are continuing to scour North County for a project site that will work for them. He says they are still committed to bringing the Five Suits experience to the public in a brewpub setting, meaning having food prepared and available on-site. The tied-house laws that spelled Notorious Burgers’ withdrawal are those which state a licensed alcohol manufacturer may not sublet to a restaurateur that also holds an ABC (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) license. So, the three options Corona and company are entertaining are running their own brewpub (so long as the main focus remains making beer), finding a restaurateur who doesn’t hold an ABC license to sublet to, or allowing a restaurateur to hold interest in Five Suits.
“While Five Suits will no longer be involved in this project, Good Omen Mead will continue to move forward with the location in downtown Escondido,” says Corona. “Five Suits is confident that Good Omen Mead will see success in their new location and wishes them the best of luck.”
Good Omen co-owner Brian LaMere harbors no ill will toward Five Suits, Notorious Burgers or Stoke Distilling, saying the situation is unfortunate because they were “great guys” and he was looking forward to going into business with them. That said, he is excited about the new direction of the project, which will see a winery and meadery operating under the same roof. LaMere is also in talks with a brewery that may split his portion of the space with him, as he does not have sufficient funds to go it alone at present, though he is in talks with a business entity that has expressed interest in backing his business. If a brewery partner does come on board, he says he may look for someone to head a kitchen operation, or have Good Omen take that on. Time will tell, but he has a vision for the large space.
“There will be craft tacos. There will be live music and comedy upstairs. There will be a speakeasy-style lounge downstairs on occasion where we push production out of the way and make room for jazz or whatever sorts of entertainment we find fitting downstairs,” says LaMere. “We think highly of Nick [and our former project partners] and know they’ll all be successful in their ventures. I have a great team still with me, even if it no longer includes Stoke and Five Suites, and I am really looking forward to changing the face of downtown Escondido.”