High Sierra Brewery Co. closing downtown Carson City doors
March 12, 2014
High Sierra Brewing Co. will leave downtown near the end of March and enter the history books unless an investor turns up, the owner-operator said Wednesday.
The landlord, meanwhile, said the building at 302 N. Carson St. will undergo renovation as quickly as feasible after the micro-brewery and bar-restaurant vacates it, but it will take time for that and to find a new business tenant or tenants.
High Sierra is owned and operated by Jim Phalan and his wife, Gaby. Carson Adams LLC owns the building and the man behind that Hop and Mae Adams Foundation property firm is Steve Neighbors of Meridian, Idaho.
Phalan and Neighbors both acknowledged the change and Phalan explained his current lease extension was going to run out at mid-year anyway.
"The lease was too expensive," said Phalan, noting that even though business has been good he can't continue without a cash infusion. The brewery will close on March 29.
"When he leaves," said Neighbors in a telephone interview, "we're going to remodel the building, fix some things with the building."
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Phalan said after June 30 the remodel was in the works anyway, and it was his understanding the 11,000 square foot structure would accommodate more than one tenant when it is done. Neighbors said it could be one or more than one business locating there when upgrades are accomplished.
"I'm looking forward to bringing that building up to Carson City downtown standards," he said. "We have a number of inquiries already. It's coming a little bit quicker than I thought, but I've got an architect…and we'll be on it immediately." He said he anticipated the remodel would cost "several hundred thousand dollars."
Phalan, meanwhile, said he wants to continue at some other location but needs an investor with more than a quarter million dollars to put up, and with whom he and his spouse would become equal partners. He said his micro-brewery distribution business had increased 40 percent over three years, but without such a deal his award-winning beers would be consigned to history along with the bar-food service and micro-brewery downtown.
As for his efforts with Neighbors, he was unwilling to say anything negative.
"We tried to negotiate; unfortunately, we were unable to come to agreement," Phalan said. When it came to Carson City, area and others that tried his brews, however, he went all in with positive comments, thanking customers.
He was asked if his business at Firkin & Fox, 310 S. Carson St., would continue unaffected. He said that is the case.
Phalan posted the High Sierra news on his Facebook page, explaining his reasons for seeking a promissory note for back and future rent to continue in the building rather than closing on March 29.
"The simple answer is that we couldn't and can not afford the large current rental rate with the volume of business that we were generating, thus causing us to get behind on a portion of the rent due," he wrote. "We have been looking for the past 18 months for investors/partners…to build an off site production facility; however, we have been coming up short."
Neighbors said renovations at the High Sierra building will prompt him to seek some community input on the exterior, which he has done for The Hub just south across the street at 222 N. Carson St., and will do for the upcoming exterior work on the old Citibank building on the southwest corner of Telegraph Square.
The Hub is a tech-oriented business incubator about to open. The former Citibank's refurbishment will commence soon, said Neighbors.
"I think we're about wrapped up with the all the demolition (work)," he said, which he noted has included asbestos removal.
Neighbors is trustee of the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation, which is named for the late owners of the Carson Nugget casino.