Chula Vista

South Bay Brewer Rolling With Changing Regulations

A South Bay brewery founder is trying his best to roll with the punches as another round of business closures looms in San Diego County

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“I just don’t know where the lines are drawn and exactly how firm they are with the regulations.”

Steve Garcia is just being honest.

“I mean, it’s a gut-punch,” he admits. “I feel like small, big, all business owners felt the tsunami wave that came over our way. You just kind of have to hold on, sit, and brace for impact," he said.

Garcia is one of the founders of 3 Punk Ales Brewing in Chula Vista. His brewery on Third Avenue has run the gambit of regulations the past four months.

They went from one of the South Bay’s top breweries to closed; from carry-out service to open; and just this week, back to carry-out service.

“It will be the yo-yo of owning and operating a small business,” he sighed.

Garcia said 3 Punk Ales merely survived the carry-out phase but thrived once again beginning June 12 when they were allowed to have patrons inside.

“For ourselves, we were back in action,” he said. “It was tempered excitement because the virus didn’t disappear.”

The coronavirus did come back and forced the county of San Diego to kick patrons out of bars and breweries that didn’t serve food. The restrictions did not impact wineries.

“This is not the time to be bickering, like, ‘They are this,’ and ‘We’re doing that.’ It’s affecting the industry as a whole,” he said.

The county said breweries could only serve beer to customers sitting at a table if they also served food on the same tab. It takes a lot to keep up with rules that keep changing week-to-week.

“It’s ever-changing, man. There’s nothing certain until you get that next Tweet or that next news break," Garcia said.

It could change again. California Governor Gavin Newsom closed all indoor activities like bars and breweries Wednesday in 19 counties. So far, San Diego County was not included.

“It’s hard to survive the first shutdown for three months, let alone get thrown another shutdown for who-knows how long,” concluded Garcia. “Let’s not get too excited. There’s a chance that this goes backwards all over again. So, let’s just make sure that we’re ready to adjust and pivot if we need to.”

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