Might Canes be leaving its beachfront address this year? The lease on the 900-capacity club in Mission Beach expires in October. Canes owner Eric Leitstein says he will move the club and its 100 employees to a new location if he doesn’t get to renew his 13-year-old lease.
“I’m just not ready to turn over the keys and hand the business over to someone else,” says Leitstein. “I maxed out five credit cards to get this thing up and running.”
Leitstein’s landlord, Tom Lochtefeld, also owns the neighboring 1100-capacity WaveHouse. Last year, Canes was unable to book Unwritten Law, Eek-A-Mouse, and Ozomotli because the WaveHouse presented those bands in a summer-long concert series.
Because Lochtefeld’s talent-buying team is pursuing major acts for the WaveHouse, insiders assume they could easily take over the Canes lease if it isn’t renewed by Leitstein. But Leitstein says if Lochtefeld does take over the Canes location, a transition won’t necessarily be that easy.
“The bottom line is I own the liquor license,” says Leitstein, who believes Lochtefeld would have difficulty obtaining a license for the space.
But Jennifer Hill of the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says that Lochtefeld could apply for a “premises expansion” that would allow his WaveHouse license to be used in the Canes building. She said her agency would do an investigation in order to determine if the expansion would be permissible.
Lochtefeld has a 99-year lease with the City of San Diego to control the Belmont Park property. Leitstein says he has found two other possible venues that could house a relocated Canes, but he would not disclose where they are. He can’t move his license anywhere he pleases because there are certain neighborhoods that the City and State have deemed oversaturated with liquor licenses (Pacific Beach, for example).
Lochtefeld did not respond to a request for comment.
— Ken Leighton