Barrio Logan restaurant to open amid purple tier restrictions

Craft brewery pivots plan to open outdoors only barbecue
Posted at 3:37 PM, Nov 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-12 19:29:45-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diego craft brewery hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic is taking the rare step of opening a restaurant, despite the region going into the state's most restrictive purple tier.

Dennis O’Connor says the pandemic hurt Thorne Brewing Company the moment the first shut down kicked in back in March.

“It wasn't so much that nobody was coming in, but you also lost all those bars and restaurants that were buying your product,” said O’Connor, who co-founded the brewery in 2012.

Not to mention, the price of cans increased, hitting the craft brewer’s distribution.

Thorne operates three locations in San Diego County, at least one of which will likely have to shut down as the region enters the most restrictive purple tier, outlawing indoor dining. The restrictions take effect midnight Saturday, to help stop the increased spread of the coronavirus.

“We are nowhere near thriving,” O’Connor said. “It’s survival at best.”

But O’Connor has a new tool for survival.

Connected to Thorne’s Barrio Logan location is a new full service distillery and wood-fired pizza restaurant the brewery finished in march, but never opened. O’Connor says it was a multimillion-dollar project that took years.

“It was pretty much just a big blank warehouse,” he said.

While the interior can't open, Thorne is converting the restaurant’s outdoor patio into its own barbecue eatery, with a bar in the back called Sideyard Barbecue by Hot Mess (the name of the adjacent pizza restaurant) . It'll seat 84 people and opens to the public Nov. 19.

“If outdoor is the new norm then let's do an outdoor and let’s kick (butt) on it,” O’Connor said. “Let's not put it in the street, let’s not put it in a barn tent, let's do something special. So that's what this is.”

O’Connor said he hopes the barbecue can help get Thorne and its now-limited staff through the pandemic.