Last Wednesday Ryan Lamb at West Coaster put up a blog post with a few details about a proposed bottle shop and tasting room that Arsalun Tafazoli, owner of downtown restaurant and craft beer bar Neighborhood is hoping to open in the same building that houses Neighborhood on the 700 block of G Street. As Lamb put it, “This move would bring the beer-for-here/beer-to-go model close to the Gaslamp Quarter where many tourists and conventioneers stay while in town.”

Tafazoli filed for a Conditional Use Permit with the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC) on January 17th. West Coaster’s post provided a contact at the Centre City Advisory Committee that readers could contact to get more information about the project, and concluded with: “Support for this project can be sent to Lorena Cordova at the CCDC is the woman to contact. Her e-mail address is cordova@ccdc.com.”

Support was positive on Facebook and Twitter with a few people leaving comments in favor of it. One person said that it would be a great addition to East Village while another said he wrote an email to Cordova at CCDC to show support. But it turns out not everyone is looking forward to the possibility of Neighborhood opening a bottle shop downtown.

A few days later on February 13th, Neighborhood posted the following messages to Twitter:

According to Tafazoli CCDC contacted him to let him know that Sadeer Mikhail (Sid at Best Damn Beer Shop (BDBS), and the son of the owner of Super Jr Market which houses BDBS) emailed to inquire about more information on Neighborhood’s plans and for information on how to petition the license application. Mikhail would not confirm nor deny that he wrote the email to CCDC which said in part, “I’m afraid if the Neighborhood Ale House opens up a bottle shop/tasting room it will dramatically effect us [Super Jr Market/Best Damn Beer Shop] directly considering we are 3 blocks away. Please let us know how we can petition this application for beer and wine off sell license.” The email also listed three other businesses that would be effected if Neighborhood were to open a bottle shop, though Mikhail later declined to provide me with any contact info for other business that would be effected.

Mikhail provided a statement (which he asked that I post in full, see below) in which he said “I was told by a few people in the community that The Neighborhood has plans to open up a bottle shop beer & wine. So I inquired about what their plans are. I was told to email CCDC to find out more information about the license they are applying for. I’m not the only business that is concerned about this application. Super Jr. Market (Best Damn Beer Shop) never filed anything. My family has owned the store since 1978, and many employees and family members live off of Super Jr. Market. We have nothing against The Neighborhood Ale House, I actually enjoy that they do not supply ketchup with their fries. However, any business person would try to protect his/her livelihood and their employees from someone opening a similar type of business 3 blocks away.”

One can’t fault Mikhail for wanting to protect his family’s business, but some don’t like the way he’s possibly going about it, with one person responding to Neighborhood’s tweet: “WEAK!” another person commented on Facebook, “It really sucks. I love the Best Damn Beer Shop, but such animosity for fellow beer lovers makes me not want to patronize them anymore.” Tafazoli added in an email, “the city official was even surprised she said it was the first time she had seen a protest from another business on the grounds of competition.”

Tafazoli doesn’t seem deterred, “As you know this town has been flooded with establishments focusing on Craft Beer which has been a good thing for all, and something we’ve taken an enormous amount of pride in. We’re not competing against each other, our interests are aligned, and for those guys to actually file a protest is really disappointing. But the community will prevail. Ever since I sent out that tweet, the feedback has been awesome, Jack [White] from Ballast Point, Greg [Koch] from Stone, even Rob Tod [from Allagash] who is in Maine offered to help me out if needed. Greg said he would come out and speak in support if there was a hearing.”

Below is Mikhail’s full statement

I was told by a few people in the community that The Neighborhood has plans to open up a bottle shop beer & wine. So I inquired about what their plans are. I was told to email CCDC to find out more information about the license they are applying for. I’m not the only business that is concerned about this application. Super Jr. Market (Best Damn Beer Shop) never filed anything. My family has owned the store since 1978, and many employees and family members live off of Super Jr. Market.  We have nothing against The Neighborhood Ale House, I actually enjoy that they do not supply ketchup with their fries. However, any business person would try to protect his/her livelihood and their employees from someone opening a smilier [sic] type of business 3 blocks away.  Unlike the restaurant/bar/brewery business, bottle shop retail is very limited in selection, gross sale and profit.  The downtown area is too saturated with bottle shops within 1/2 mile vicinity. Furthermore, I have consulted many other bottle shops in San Diego on how to grow their craft beer business and thrive in the craft industry.  If you were to ask key players in the craft beer world, you would find that our love, passion and reputation for the craft beer industry speaks for itself. Cheers

Sid

Advertisements