Southern Pacific Brewing, an 8,500-square-foot Mission District restaurant, bar, and brewery that’s been jam-packed since it opened in 2012, is on the market, its owner says. The spot closed to customers in early September, but will continue to sell beer at occasional pop-up events — at least until it finds a buyer.
Like many businesses across the Bay Area, the venue temporarily closed at the beginning of the pandemic. It reopened mid-August, with expanded outdoor seating and a new program of canned beer that fans could take to go. “But that wasn’t enough,” owner Chris Lawrence tells Eater SF.
“We were able to add 13 tables to our outside seating,” Lawrence says. “That was enough to help stem the loss, but the heat wave and then the fires” (the smoke from which made outdoor dining an unhealthy proposition) “forced us to pull back and rethink,” Lawrence says. After a meeting with the brewery’s investors, the decision was made: Southern Pacific closed to customers earlier this month and is now for sale.
Lawrence, a native of the city (he’s a Sacred Heart grad, before you ask), says that he’s loved operating his immensely popular business and “bringing our beer to the San Francisco community.” But he also says that this might also be a good stopping point for him and his team of investors, many of whom have left town, had kids, or otherwise moved onto their next chapter. “People’s lives have changed,” Lawrence says, “and it’s time to pass the torch of this great, successful business … although the pandemic has most people holding onto their pocketbooks, we feel it is a great opportunity.”
Southern Pacific does not own its vast, industrial building (the interior of which, incidentally, was designed by SF star architect Seth Boor), so this is a sale of the business, only, Lawrence says, including its equipment and fixtures. “It’s a cool space and could attract a larger player in the brewery space,” Lawrence says, one that would “put their name in and take over the program.” But if a buyer wanted to take over the Southern Pacific name and branding, that’s an option too, he says. (Interested parties can contact Guy Carson of Urban Group Real Estate.)
Until a deal is struck, Lawrence says that Southern Pacific will occasionally sell its canned product at pop-up events in the space, announced via Instagram as they’re scheduled. He says he’s also hoping to get his beers on local shelves — prior to opening the bar, Lawrence worked in beer sales and distribution, and says he’ll be reaching out to his contacts from that career again. “My hope is that we can get our beers in some other local restaurants and help them out,” he says.
He’s insistent that Southern Pacific’s fate is not an “another one bites the dust” kind of tale, and in speaking to him, one can already hear the wheels turning in Lawrence’s mind. “After all this ends,” he says, “there are going to be a lot of opportunities for the right people.” When he says that, he might be referring to himself — but he might as easily be talking about the chance for someone new to take over Southern Pacific’s two-story space, the home of so many happy hours, first dates, and going-away parties. It could be the site of many more happy events, after all this, Lawrence says. “We just need to find someone to continue our legacy.”