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Stone Brewing evicted after judge ruling in favour of landlord

Stone Brewing’s Napa taproom and brewery has closed after a judge gave its landlord the power to evict the business.

@stonenapa instagram

The eviction ruling, dealt by a Superior Court judge, was based on the brewer failing to make rent payments throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and has, reportedly, resulted in job loss for almost 40 employees.

The property landlord, West Pueblo Partners moved to evict Stone Brewing back in the spring reportedly claiming that the brewery owed, at the time, approximately US$211,000 in unpaid rent dating back to November 2020. Stone Brewing contested that a provision in its lease protected it from events outside of its control – such as the pandemic and filed the lawsuit in response, however the judge has sided with the landlord.

Stone Brewing confirmed via social media: “We permanently closed our Napa location as a result of our landlord’s unwillingness to work with us during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Despite multiple attempts to come to an amicable resolution with our landlord, our time as a tenant in this building has come to an end. We negotiated for broad protections in our lease in the situation that an unforeseeable event delayed or interrupted our ability to operate our business. And when the pandemic hit and shut down Stone Brewing – Napa for much of the past year and a half, we tried to no avail to work with our landlord to share the burden of the pandemic,” the brewery said in a statement.

West Pueblo Partners member Kevin Teague revealed: “The makers of the appropriately-named Arrogant Bastard beer have simply decided to stop paying rent on the Napa building,” and added: “The company continues to make beer, distribute beer, sell beer, sell other brewery swag, sell food, fully operate the patio and is permitted to operate the upstairs dining area to the maximum allowed”.

Sources rumoured that the brewery claimed it couldn’t pay its rent at the same time that it had successfully expanded its operations elsewhere, hence the judge ruling in favour of the landlord.

“We are disheartened by their decision to end our 20 year lease simply because we exercised our right to defer payments during some of the hardest months of the pandemic. So we took our disagreement to court, and bewilderingly – considering the law and our very clear rights under the lease – the judge sided against us in a decision that will threaten protections for commercial tenants when the next pandemic or wildfire comes,” said Stone Brewing, revealing it plans to “vigorously appeal” the ruling and said that other business owners should take heed because this means that many companies are no longer protected by the clauses to defer in their lease agreements.

“If our lease did not provide protection during the pandemic, then no lease, no matter how broad, will protect a restaurant, bar or shop owner from eviction,” the brewery warned.

Stone lamented: “We poured a tremendous amount of passion into the renovation of the beautiful historic 1877 Borreo Building…our customers have become like family and were devoted craft beer fans.”

Stone Brewing is hoping to relocate some team members to Southern California and has said it will do all it can to support those it leaves behind, including providing severance and benefits coverage.

Stone is the US’s ninth-largest craft brewery by volume, however, despite the Napa closure Stone is still left with six breweries and taprooms in San Diego County, as well as locations in Pasadena and Richmond, Virginia. Stone also operates a distribution arm for independent craft breweries, helping them gain a foothold in the US off-trade.

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