“No, I don’t think it’s important at all,” local concert promoter Josh Barnes says when asked about the recent shutdown of liquor sales at Brick by Brick in Linda Vista.
1130 Buenos Avenue, Linda Vista
“The barbecue place is connected to it,” he says with noticeable exasperation. “Unless you’re a raging alcoholic and you need a freakin’ IV or something, I have no problem going next door.”
By next door, Barnes is talking about Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ, an eatery that sells beer and wine that adjoins Brick by Brick. According to public records, on December 13 sales of alcoholic beverages were suspended for a one-year period at the Brick.
Max Paul is listed as the sole owner of the venue. Records indicate the disciplinary action was made at the behest of the State Board of Equalization. Otherwise, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control license query system shows no other active disciplinary action in place at this time, nor is there any history of same.
Jaret Jahn is Brick by Brick’s general manager. He says the venue’s attorney has advised both he and Paul not to talk about the situation until it is resolved. “I can say that there are no blemishes on our license that caused the temporary suspension,” he emailed, “and that the suspension will be lifted once a financial agreement has been reached.”
Brick by Brick may be the eldest of rock halls in San Diego under continuous operation. In its first life, it was called the Spirit of 76 (later shortened to the Spirit) club, founded by Jerry and Madeline Herrera. Herrera shepherded San Diego’s first original rock scene while staging more lucrative acts such as R.E.M., the Blasters, and Los Lobos. Paul bought the operation over 15 years ago and stayed the course. The short list of touring acts that have appeared there under his tenure includes Godsmack, Blue Öyster Cult, Agent Orange, Ronnie James Dio, and System of a Down.
But profits from bar sales are a venue’s main source of income, and without that revenue stream the future looks grim for a nightclub in a climate of diminishing returns.
Last year saw two powerhouses shutter — Anthology and 4th&B — and the Void on El Cajon Boulevard in Normal Heights is currently dark and undergoing reorganization. Barnes says he even suggested that the Brick reinvent itself as an all-ages venue and leave the beer sales to the barbecue joint next door.
“Those guys, they’ve put everything they’ve got into that place. I talked to Max, and he said he’s getting the license back. He says it’s just a matter of time. And I believe him.”