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Business park's first tenant moving from San Marcos
By Craig Gustafson
April 27, 2005

Work is under way on the Stone Brewing Co.'s new headquarters in the center of the Escondido Research and Technology Center.
ESCONDIDO – The first tenant of the city's new business park is planning to open in grand style.

Would you expect anything less from the purveyors of Arrogant Bastard Ale?

Stone Brewing is building a new, 58,000-square-foot headquarters in the center of the Escondido Research and Technology Center, a 186-acre business park under construction west of the Escondido Auto Park.

City leaders hope the business park will attract as many as 4,000 new jobs. Stone will bring the first 125.

The main attraction for beer enthusiasts probably will be a 9,500-square-foot restaurant and 1-acre beer garden, dubbed Stone Brewing's World Bistro & Gardens.

In typical Stone fashion, chief executive Greg Koch summed up what the new brewery will do for the business park.

"We're sort of like the whip cream and cherry on top," he said. "Do we make it viable? Maybe not. I think the business park is viable without us; it's just inherently cooler with us."

Stone, which Koch co-founded in 1996 with partner Steve Wagner, is moving from its San Marcos brewery to allow for expansion. Its existing facility, which doesn't have a beer garden or restaurant, runs round-the-clock, seven days a week to keep up with demand. In 2004, Stone produced 32,000 barrels and generated $10.9 million in revenue.

The new facility will be more than twice as large and will house brewing equipment being specially manufactured in Germany. Koch said Stone eventually will be able to produce six times as much beer.

The company will be careful not to spread itself too thin and plans production increases of no more than 40 percent annually, Koch said. In 2004, production increased by 31 percent – the slowest growth in Stone's nine-year history, he said.

However, Koch said the move is as much about quality as quantity.

The $12 million facility, which should be up and running in October, will feature a sprawling beer garden with avocado, lime and citrus trees. The restaurant, which will open two months later, will boast "eclectic comfort food," Koch said, such as curry chicken shepherd's pie, ostrich burgers and, of course, Arrogant Bastard onion rings.

"It'll be upscale as far as the quality and character of the food, although we're not going to stick our pinkies out or anything," he said.

Work began in January on the nearly 4-acre Escondido site, at 999 S. Citracado Parkway. Much of the framework is up, but Stone is looking for a little help.

From 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, Stone will kick off a three-day charity fundraiser, asking its fans to help build a 14-foot-high stone wall that will run through the new restaurant and beer garden. City officials are scheduled to place stones in the wall tomorrow morning.

People can buy stones of various sizes for $125 to $1,000. In exchange, they'll receive Stone gift certificates and bottles of a special-issue brew called Stone Wall Ale, with their name or the name of their business on it. Koch said it will be the strongest beer the company has made so far and will be available only through this project.

The fundraiser will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Koch said 80 percent of the money raised will be donated to four local charities: the Palomar Family YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos, the Escondido Sunrise Rotary and the California State University San Marcos Foundation. For more information, visit

City Councilman Ed Gallo said he believes a restaurant such as Stone's will be an asset to the park, especially when jobs start coming.

"They make a great product. It's a good addition to a business park. You have to have eating establishments," he said. "They've just struck up a great business there."

The business park, south of state Route 78 and west of Interstate 15, is the last large piece of industrial land in the city. Officials hope to use the park to lure high-tech businesses and jobs.

It's also the leading candidate for a new $531 million hospital to be built by Palomar Pomerado Health. A majority of the City Council opposes that plan and prefers commercial and industrial uses at the park.

Craig Gustafson: (760) 737-7559;