The problem facing Stone Brewing Co.’s Escondido bistro is one not many businesses in the restaurant industry are familiar with.
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens got too popular, too fast.
The bistro’s revenue has grown about 30 percent each year since opening in 2006 but has kept the same small kitchen all the while, according to a brewery spokesperson. On a Saturday night, patrons are asked to wait about two hours for a table. The wait often exceeds an hour on weekdays too.
More recently, the wait may be a little longer, as construction crews virtually gut out the existing area to make way for a more accommodating space.
“We’ve had double-digit growth every year since we’ve opened,” said Randy Clemens of Stone Brewing Co. “We’re getting busier and busier and we don’t see any signs of slowing down. So the kitchen has been strained.”
In the meantime, the restaurant is operating out of “remote kitchens,” Clemens said. He described those locations as “almost the idea of a food truck, but up to code.”
Though the bistro has nixed a few items from the menu with the remote kitchen’s limitations in mind, the menu still features about 20 takes on classic pub food.
“To the unseen eye, everything is business as usual,” Clemens said.
However, many have noticed the changes, and are critical of the way San Diego’s beloved brewing company is handling the changes.
Business consultant Karen Martin said when she visited the restaurant, the changes were obvious and a bit disappointing. Martin said the menu should have been much more limited, with a few particularly good items, rather than several mediocre items.
“I understand if they have to limit themselves, but if they’re going to cut the menu down, they better do well with the food they serve,” she said.
The issue at hand is temporary though, Martin recognized, and she’s looking forward to trying the bistro’s new menu once the renovations are complete.
“Rapid growth is a big issue,” Martin said. “It can be tough to swallow.”
The renovations began last month and chefs are in the process of creating a new menu. Clemens said the bistro should be back and better than ever in the next couple weeks – however the date has been pushed back, and an exact completion date is still unknown.