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Depot Springs due this summer in La Mesa

Brewery, restaurant, music venue back on track

Depot Springs craft brewery, restaurant, and outdoor stage resumed construction in March following a community-relations break.
Depot Springs craft brewery, restaurant, and outdoor stage resumed construction in March following a community-relations break.

Following several months of delays, construction has resumed on La Mesa's next brewery, Depot Springs Beer Co. Originally projected to open in December 2015, Depot Springs founder Aaron Dean pressed pause on the project last year to address concerns within the local community stemming from a planned live-music component.

Plans to develop the more than 20,000-square-foot property include a 15-barrel brewhouse and tasting room, a full-service restaurant, a supervised activities area for children, and a professional-grade outdoor stage for live performances. Community issues arose in part from a Reader music news story last May, listing the entertainment center's capacity at 900, including 600 for the outdoor music venue.

News of a large concert venue at the northeast border of La Mesa prompted nearby residents — including some in neighboring El Cajon — to voice objections to the city. In March, Dean hosted a community forum to address their concerns and walk back that perception. "We're not a concert venue," he stresses, "When I originally started this concept a year and a half ago I was very gung ho and said we're going to hold 900 people. We're not. What fire gives us as far as occupancy is not what we plan on doing."

He says the venue is intended for unticketed performances by local musicians, for patrons of the brewery and restaurant. "It can hold two or three hundred people very comfortably," Dean says, "Sitting on the grass enjoying their food or their drinks." With a full time sound engineer on staff, Dean does expect the complex to host music daily, both on its outdoor stage and a smaller "cabaret stage" located inside. Dean says plans also include stand up comedy, outdoor movie screenings and art events.

The root of the idea, Dean says, is to create a family friendly space for young parents living in the area who need a place they can bring their kids. "This is not a pitcher of beer or shot glass place," he insists, "This is not a sports bar. This is a really nice, higher-end brewery, restaurant and events space." He adds, "We're really not appealing to the 21 year olds who are looking just to get drunk, that's not us."

He describes a "Kids Zone" free of TV and video games, where camp counselor types supervise children's play on climbing equipment or arts and crafts projects while parents enjoy music, food, and drink. For the restaurant he's enlisted chef Matt Richmond, formerly of North Pacific Beach restaurant Table 926. "We really want to create a menu that is something you wouldn't normally find in a brewery, that you would normally find at a much nicer restaurant, but with prices you'd expect in La Mesa."

Brewing beer will be previous Lost Abbey brewer Stuart Long, returning to San Diego after winning GABF medals brewing for Silver Moon in Bend Oregon. Now that construction on the ambitious project has resumed, Dean anticipates a summer launch of four initial core beer offerings.

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Depot Springs craft brewery, restaurant, and outdoor stage resumed construction in March following a community-relations break.
Depot Springs craft brewery, restaurant, and outdoor stage resumed construction in March following a community-relations break.

Following several months of delays, construction has resumed on La Mesa's next brewery, Depot Springs Beer Co. Originally projected to open in December 2015, Depot Springs founder Aaron Dean pressed pause on the project last year to address concerns within the local community stemming from a planned live-music component.

Plans to develop the more than 20,000-square-foot property include a 15-barrel brewhouse and tasting room, a full-service restaurant, a supervised activities area for children, and a professional-grade outdoor stage for live performances. Community issues arose in part from a Reader music news story last May, listing the entertainment center's capacity at 900, including 600 for the outdoor music venue.

News of a large concert venue at the northeast border of La Mesa prompted nearby residents — including some in neighboring El Cajon — to voice objections to the city. In March, Dean hosted a community forum to address their concerns and walk back that perception. "We're not a concert venue," he stresses, "When I originally started this concept a year and a half ago I was very gung ho and said we're going to hold 900 people. We're not. What fire gives us as far as occupancy is not what we plan on doing."

He says the venue is intended for unticketed performances by local musicians, for patrons of the brewery and restaurant. "It can hold two or three hundred people very comfortably," Dean says, "Sitting on the grass enjoying their food or their drinks." With a full time sound engineer on staff, Dean does expect the complex to host music daily, both on its outdoor stage and a smaller "cabaret stage" located inside. Dean says plans also include stand up comedy, outdoor movie screenings and art events.

The root of the idea, Dean says, is to create a family friendly space for young parents living in the area who need a place they can bring their kids. "This is not a pitcher of beer or shot glass place," he insists, "This is not a sports bar. This is a really nice, higher-end brewery, restaurant and events space." He adds, "We're really not appealing to the 21 year olds who are looking just to get drunk, that's not us."

He describes a "Kids Zone" free of TV and video games, where camp counselor types supervise children's play on climbing equipment or arts and crafts projects while parents enjoy music, food, and drink. For the restaurant he's enlisted chef Matt Richmond, formerly of North Pacific Beach restaurant Table 926. "We really want to create a menu that is something you wouldn't normally find in a brewery, that you would normally find at a much nicer restaurant, but with prices you'd expect in La Mesa."

Brewing beer will be previous Lost Abbey brewer Stuart Long, returning to San Diego after winning GABF medals brewing for Silver Moon in Bend Oregon. Now that construction on the ambitious project has resumed, Dean anticipates a summer launch of four initial core beer offerings.

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