Beer lovers may have a new spot in which to sip their favorite brews, and Laguna Beach might see a long-vacant business space finally being occupied.
The Planning Commission on Wednesday will consider granting the founders of Laguna Beach Beer Co. conditional use and coastal development permits to open a microbrewery and 80-seat restaurant at 859 Laguna Canyon Road, which has been empty for 10 years, according to a city staff report.
Laguna Beach residents Mike Lombardo and Brent Reynard established the company in 2014 and for a time contracted beer production to other Southern California facilities, Reynard said.
But Laguna Beach Beer Co. recently moved into its own production facility and tasting room in Rancho Santa Margarita, where beers will still be manufactured for the business' wholesale arm. The company supplies bars and restaurants throughout Orange County.
The beer manufactured at the canyon location would primarily be consumed on-site, the staff report said. The Laguna location's focus would be on specialty beers rather than the company's core brews, Reynard added.
Opening a microbrewery and restaurant in Laguna was the goal all along, Reynard said.
The canyon location provided the space for a brewery and is a "good destination for locals and tourists," Reynard said. "Being next to the Sawdust [Art Festival] did not hurt at all."
The property is near the event venue known as [seven-degrees] and once housed Serra's Bar & Grill. Plans call for 2,666 square feet of indoor space and 438 square feet of outdoor patio area, the report said.
Since the owners want to add square footage, they must provide more parking than the current 72 spots in a nearby lot, in keeping with the city's mandated ratio. Thus, the company proposes to restripe the lot to create 10 added spaces, the report said.
Laguna Beach Beer Co.'s flagship beer is the Greeter's Ale, a crisp pale ale. Other selections include blonde and red ales and an IPA, according to the company's website.
The name Greeter's Ale is a takeoff on the city's series of "greeters," who have stood on street corners welcoming those who pass by. One of the most colorful was Eiler Larsen, a Danish immigrant with shaggy hair and a beard who would be dressed in a red shirt, slacks and sandals as he grinned and waved at visitors.
The proposed menu includes flatbread pizzas, panini sandwiches and appetizers, including a sprouted hummus barley bowl.
The restaurant would be open from 10 a.m. to midnight daily, and no live entertainment is proposed.
Lombardo and Reynard started brewing beer as a hobby after Lombardo received a beer kit from his sister, according to a 2014 Coastline Pilot story.
Reynard's living room was filled with plastic fermentation buckets. He and Lombardo would stand over boiling kettles to fine-tune recipes, which garnered positive reviews from family and friends.
Validation came when Lombardo and Reynard earned a medal for their IPA in the homebrew competition at the 2014 Orange County Fair, the Pilot reported.
Laguna Beach Beer Co. is not the only business in Laguna looking to brew beer on-site. Laguna Beach Brewery & Grille, which opened last year at 237 Ocean Ave., hopes to start brewing in two or three months, owner Kathy Smith said Tuesday.