On April 25th Mission Brewery debuted a new tasting-room extension, adding 5400 square feet to the 20-thousand-plus it occupies in East Village's historic Wonder Bread building. Only two days prior, the San Diego Chargers officially launched a campaign attempting to build a new stadium that would occupy the entire block the 92-year-old building sits on, as well as those surrounding it.
1441 L Street, East Village
"My tasting room sits in the middle of the field on the 50-yard line," says Mission owner Dan Selis of the so-called Citizens' Initiative, which proposes to increase city hotel taxes to help fund a new stadium. On April 23rd, the Chargers began an expensive signature-gathering campaign to put the plan to a public vote on the November ballot. Mission had already been producing beer at this location six years prior to investing in the new expansion. "We're just bubbling along," Selis says, "and suddenly they want to put a stadium on top of us."
Thus far, professional sports in the neighborhood has been a boon to tasting-room business. Petco Park sits just a few blocks away, and Selis notes the crowds Mission draws during Padres home games has been maxing out its roughly 300-person capacity, creating the need for an expansion.
"We can comfortably hold 600 people now," Selis explains. The new two-story space features 16 taps, skylights, and a glimpse of the ballpark. Most days, it won't be open to the public, but Selis contends it will also meet increasing demand to hire the red-brick brewery as an events space without closing its main tasting room.
Mission is only the second tenant in the 1924 factory, and even uses the bakery's vintage grain silo for its original purpose. "Wonder Bread was there making bread from water, yeast, and grain," says Selis. "Add hops to that, and you're making beer. So, we use the factory in a similar way that they did."
Selis doesn't own the building but does have a lease good until 2030. So, presuming the stadium initiative passes, he expects any negotiations for the Chargers to purchase the property will have to consider Mission's ability to maintain production.
"They would have to relocate my business," Selis says. “Pay to move all the tanks, everything…. Any deal that we strike will be a very important part of it that our business continues…. We’ve gotta be packaging and brewing every day."
Even so, Selis can't imagine moving to a new location that comes close to the charm of the Wonder Bread building. "The vibe," he muses, “the way they built the place — there's not a lot of buildings like it in San Diego."
He believes the Chargers may decide to incorporate the old building into a new stadium's design — much like the Western Metal Supply Co. building overlooking left field at Petco Park. But anything definitive is still a long way off.
"Right now it's not real," he says. "There's so much that has to happen…. I don't lose sleep."