El Cajon Brewing Company, Chapter 11

Discussion in 'Pacific' started by evilc, Oct 22, 2012.

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  1. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

  2. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    But they're still open and having their first anni party soon. What a way to get up and running. Blowing through 600K to open a brewery isn't surprising. I think Societe was nearly $1M, and that's without a kitchen, and Modern Times has raised $1.25M? Opening a brewery isn't cheap, or easy or quick.
  3. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    Already had the party, I guess they are mad at City Hall:

  4. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    They're mad that City Hall didn't want anything to do with them that took public funds and has since declared bankruptcy protection? WTF? I guess it depends where the City is in terms of creditors on the bankruptcy list, but if they're low on the Totem Pole and may get screwed I can seem them not being happy at all.

    If I were a resident of El Cajon and the public was going to get screwed on this deal, I'd be incensed.

    However, if the City will not lose a dime, then they should help promote.

    Devil is in the Details.
    Beerandraiderfan and domtronzero like this.
  5. jamex

    jamex Aspirant (244) Feb 13, 2010 California

    I'd like to read more about this - or can someone elaborate on the costs? Just curious.
  6. Levitation

    Levitation Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2009 California

    didn't they have really expensive growler fills a year ago? i remember seeing their prices on fb and deciding i wasn't interested in gambling when alpine is so close by.
  7. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    It frankly wasn't worth it. Three of us stopped in on the way to Alpine to check 'em out. No house beer but they told us they'd be tapping fresh kegs of house beer, after 30 minutes we left. Joint was dead so not sure what on earth the holdup was. Haven't been back.

    You get 1 chance to make a good first impression, they blew it.
  8. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    Damn, read their FB.


    1. Steve and David Meadows started the place, brothers. Steve is CEO, David was brewmaster.
    2. Steve screwed over David and forced him out in March ( according to David )
    3. Since then they have no brewer, and a busboy has been "brewing" ( cannot confirm accuracy, just what I've read )

    Someone call Jerry Springer
  9. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    Looks like someone at the City had a word with them and now they're eating crow.
  10. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    This place is going to fail, means I better go check them out before that happens! Maybe this time I can get some beer.
  11. mrkrispy

    mrkrispy Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2006 California

    Well they pretty much blew it for the El Cajon being friendly to craft beer in the future. I won't say anything else about that haha
  12. JRSD

    JRSD Initiate (155) Oct 27, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    I was there for part of the Anniversary Party since I know someone who works there and can say that some the info in this thread confirms what I heard and some of what I heard is different. The person who brewed the special beers does not have a lot of commercial brewing experience but the IPA was definitely a good beer and worth trying.
  13. SDDanC

    SDDanC Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2011 California

    You are correct that a "busboy" has been brewing. But what has not been made clear is that this gentleman was taking under as an apprentice long before stuff started to go awry. He became the assistant brewer and has since been brewing solo while waiting for a Brew Master to undertake the position. The idea that they just chose a random busboy and trained him to brew beeris simply misconceived. Cheers
    NoSignsOfPain and Enish266 like this.
  14. DoughIn

    DoughIn Initiate (0) Sep 27, 2009 California

    EC has a 15 bbl system with 4 x 15 bbl fermenters. In the walk in cooler there are 4 x 8 bbl Bright tanks and 2 x 15 bbl bright tanks. I designed it, build it and installed it together with my buddies at Premier Stainless Systems.
    How much beer can you brew in that size brewery? Does it always depend on storage capacity? NO. Why?
    Well you have to have MONEY to buy Malt, Hops and yeast, chemicals etc etc. If you have no budget you can brew no beer. No schedules. No nothing.
    This is how it was before I was forced out. I had to bitch everyday and ask IF the brewery was going to get money to buy malt. And most of the time the answer was no (they still owe BSG). EC was/is living off of the weekend income.
    Now the kitchen was getting close to 15K a month for just food costs and then the giant overhead from the kitchen and service employees and production cost. The overhead was enormous. I was SOLO in the brewery and 50% owner and WAS NOT GETTING PAID.
    So go figure.
    The brewery + Beer pulled in 45% of sales everyday with hardly any production cost....but NO money was put back into the brewing process. Why? Stupidity? Something like that.
    At any rate, a brewing system takes time to DIAL in. Mash schedules, Flow rates, temperatures, Process techniques, Mash efficiency etc etc, the list is long.
    Even educated experienced brewers like myself need time to dial in their process, be it on a new system or just changing from one system to the next. All systems are different and there are many different ways to do the same task in a brewery, so they all have their own "personality".
    At EC I never had the budget to brew enough product to even dial the brewing process in, and I have been brewing on Premier Systems since 2007!
    I have email correspondence dating back to January 2012 asking for money to buy malt. In January 2012 I started asking my "brother" to show me the finacial reports, the bank statements, the contracts from the city etc etc, as 50% owner it is the law. You have to share all documentation and have it readily available. But he never showed anything to me that was legitimate, ever.
    It took several weeks to get nothing. Then, fed up, I contacted a lawyer to help me get that documentation. Finally, after several months of ignoring me, they presented me and my lawyer a totally bogus and FAKE financial report. This I can prove.
    Example one is that 130K had been paid in rent when I was just on the phone with the landlord the day before! To this day thay HAVE NOT PAID ONE DIME IN RENT and are being sued by the Landlord, who happens to be a very kind and compassionate person, and in no way should be treated like he is.
    Now the Bus boy is brewing. He is a young man who just turned 21 and would do anything to brew beer on such an immaculate system. He is very interested and I am sure he will learn his trade in time. The thing is that he is being exploited and probably still gets minimum wage.
    That really is the whole point. The owner USES and EXPLOITS and HARRASSES people to get what HE wants cause he cant do it himself. Typical of an idiot. The city tax payers have definitely been exploited. The 650K loans were all sealed based on my background and education. Now I am gone, forced out by a lying bastard, and no brewer with any credentials will touch it, and how could they afford an award winning brewer anyway??
    Most all of the brewery owners in SD know me and can vouch for me and many have called me about EC.
    Hopefully EC will get rid of the current owner and let someone who knows the beer scene take it over and turn it in to the place it should be and has potential to be!
    I don't want to spread shit about anyone. But in this case my family was totally screwed over and it hurts.
    What I have written here is the truth.

    What I really want to do is apologize to the City of El Cajon, The San Diego brewing community, the Guild, Quaff members and all the breweries etc. for my "brothers" behavior and ridicule towards the industry. He has no credibility left.
    Karma will always prevail.

    Best regards,
    David Meadows
    Brewhouse Technologist
  15. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    ^ Convinced me to not return, not that I needed much. It's a nice place and with that system, has great potential. But a lot of damage has been done to the name ECB. Any new owner would have to change the name to encourage people back and rebuild brand/trust.

    Unfortunately, with the damage done in that public/private partnership I can only imagine no other city will do something similar. Too risky.
  16. riko

    riko Aspirant (208) Jan 18, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    BrewtifulMind and jamex like this.
  17. HopHead84

    HopHead84 Poo-Bah (3,190) Nov 29, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    How were you forced out if you had equal ownership? I stopped by right when ECBC opened and saw you brewing. Even though you hadn't dialed in the system I still enjoyed your IPA quite a bit and thought the other beers were solid. Bummer.
  18. mrkrispy

    mrkrispy Initiate (0) Apr 5, 2006 California

  19. evilc

    evilc Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2012 California

    I don't think any BA can possibly support this place - what drama! Really explains why they never had beers for fill. Every time I went the IPA would be offline, and they'd have maybe 2 of their beers on tap, and 20 other SD locals. Not exactly promoting themselves. It was crazy waiting 15 minutes for a menu, then 30 for our order when there were 4 customers in the place.

    They focus was NOT on the beer. That was my impression.
  20. HopHead84

    HopHead84 Poo-Bah (3,190) Nov 29, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    I decided to drive out there at the end of SDBW 2011 right when they opened. I called a few times to see if they were open and the phone just rang and rang, so I just drove to El Cajon and figured I'd get lucky and they'd be open. After looking for the place for 30 minutes I realized they had the wrong address on their website. I called another 10 times and they never answered their phone. After an hour I found the place. When I walked and saw the hostess standing there and the phone directly in front of her. I said "Why don't you answer your phone?" She smiled and giggled "Sometimes it doesn't work!!! Hehehehehehe."
    Levitation and evilc like this.
  21. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    I went once with the wife after they recently opened. It was fairly dead, except for a few people who seemed to work in the area on a lunch break. The food reminded my wife and I of something you would find in a small midwest town, which is generic and unimpressive. The beers were okay, some good, I would say all hovered around average (some above, some below), most had some kind of "flaw". Which makes since from David's story as not being able to test batches and work out the kinks needed on a new system.

    I have been thinking of giving them another go, but if these stories are true I would rather not support them. I think it would be better for a complete restart of the brewer, let them fail and someone else grab the location. Then I will go back. Plus there are plenty of new breweries popping up in SD that I want to try out, and numerous long standing breweries that I would rather support.
  22. DoughIn

    DoughIn Initiate (0) Sep 27, 2009 California

    My brother lied to me and said he needed ownership of all the stock in order to secure a line of credit from a bank. Me, totally stupid and naive, trusted him. Once he got the shares written in his name he started backstabbing me by not giving the brewery any money. Then he threatened to sue me for NOT BREWING!
    He is a lying, backstabbing parasite.
    I am sorry and ashamed to have to say anything negative about anyone but this guy DOES NOT CARE.
  23. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (580) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Industry Beer Trader

    Really sad to hear that these sorts of things are going on in our community, but where there's money to be made crooked people will come out of the woodwork anywhere I suppose. Unfortunately those people don't think or care that they are putting other people's lives on the line for their benefit. I hope things go much better in the future for you and the other employees who are truly dedicated, cheers!
  24. Alex1963

    Alex1963 Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2011 California


    There was obvious NO business acumen much less restaurant/brewery experience other than you being a brew master. There is a huge difference between knowing how to brew beers and running an operation of this magnitude. I knew ECBC was in trouble before you even opened. How? When you and your brother went to the City of El Cajon and asked for an additional 350k because you underestimated the building costs. Right there should have raised a red flag to the city. How do you miss building costs by 100%? You or your brother or a combination of the two pulled the wool over some city officials. Either that happened or the city was in on the sham as well.

    The entire layout of ECBC is all wrong. The bar area is tucked in the back where no one walking or driving down Main Street can see activity. All I ever see is the massive dining area empty. The dining area should have been where the bar is. Even if you only had a dozen people in the place, at least people walking or driving can see that you are opened and there is actually activity going on. If you were intent of having the bar where it currently is then you should have put some windows on Magnolia Avenue. There is no personality to the ECBC. A few nice pictures of El Cajon were thrown up on the wall (cheaply done I will add) but it always lacked an identity and still does. The architect should have been fired.

    I met your brother once at an ECCDC meeting well prior to you opening and offered some advice but he dismissed me as like he knew it all. I found him to be very arrogant. I met you informally a couple of times as a customer when you first opened and I will say you were very cordial to me. Your personality made you a good front man.

    I'm upset because I am a business owner in the downtown area and have been for the past 12 years. I expanded my business in 2008 and invested 650k of my own money without any financing from the city. I took 100% of the risk. This is important because when you consider 80% of ECBC is financed by others and even though I’m sure you wanted to succeed your incentive to succeed is not as valued. Why? Because your financial risk is minimal. If you fail, what did you really lose? All you have to do is file bankruptcy and walk away.

    I was one of the people against the funding from the city for ECBC. I thought a brewery would be a nice addition to the downtown area but not to the cost of the taxpayers if you were to fold which is now, simply a matter of time. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and restructuring of debt sounds like a plan but the reality is it will only delay the inevitable.

    Hopefully, a brewery with experience and a name like Alpine Brewing or San Diego Brewing will eventually take over and do right what you and your brother failed at so miserably. The people of El Cajon deserve it.

    I wish you well in your future endeavors and am truly sorry your own brother took advantage of you.
    davelag, DoughIn and Eriktheipaman like this.
  25. DoughIn

    DoughIn Initiate (0) Sep 27, 2009 California

    I need to explain a few details here. I HAD NOTHING TO DO with the planning of the construction nor was I part of the management of the "restaurant". I TRUSTED my brother, who was the General contractor (and told me he was a good one) with the design and construction of the place. The very first architect he hired was a gentleman by the name of Sam Gazallo who has an office in El Cajon. My brother of course got into an argument with him and then a lawsuit (like everyone else).
    I never wanted to hire him in the first place, but my brother NEVER listened to me.
    He changed the drawing plans several times, which then needed to be redrawn and reviewed by the city, which really slowed down the construction process and cost mucho dinero.
    Steve played the city the whole time.
    During the hiring process (I was out of town making money to support my family) he did not hire one person with craft beer knowledge even though I told him it should be the number one criteria for the job. He hired girls with big boobs, he even told me that he hired one girl because "I like the way she looks when she bends over to mop the floor". Are you kidding me? I thought he was joking but turns out he wasn't.
    I have two small children and could not afford to work full time at the job site, I HAD to take small jobs in order to survive, which my brother detested. My landlord carried me for almost two years and now we owe him big time.
    My brother could care less about my kids and the fact that we now have nothing and will be out on the street soon. He even tried to sue me for negligence because i wasn't brewing beer that he didn't give me money for!
    He always bragged about his former restaurant he claimed he had up in Exeter. Did he? I don't know. I lived in Europe and never really knew my "brother". Turns out THERE IS NO INFORMATION other that hearsay about his former restaurant. Did the city of El Cajon ever do a background check of him? NO.
    Me? I am a public figure on the Internet and my background is easily traced and the whole pitch to the city was based on my success. I have opened a brewery in Sweden which is very successful. I had many ideas for ECBC but ALL OF THEM were declined by my brother. I never got a budget for the brewery! I hardly got money at all!
    Then when I started bitching about that he OUSTED me!! Why?? Cause he has something to HIDE.

    I just want to make it clear that if I would have been able to brew beers and pair the menu with those beers, and have beer events and specials ECBC would have been a success. This I am sure of.
    I was very stupid to have trusted Steve Meadows and am very hurt by the fact that my own blood turned out to be a liar and a con man.

    This whole endeavor has ruined my reputation in SD and now I cant get a job anywhere!
    Thanks Steve! This is just what you wanted isn't it?

    I do thank you however, Alan, for your kind words about me though. I know this letter seems erractic but there is SO MUCH I want to say.......
    Best regards
    David Meadows
  26. Alex1963

    Alex1963 Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2011 California


    I really feel for you and hope things work out for you. I can't imagine the hurt you feel from your oown broher turning and conning you. Like I said previous you were very cordial to me when we met. I thought you were the face of ECBC and not your brother. Again, I'm terribly sorry for the position you and your family are in. I believe you are a good guy and was simply taken advantage of because of your knowledge. My guess is your brother funneled monies that were given to him from the city to his personal accounts and could give two sh*ts about ECBC. Mark my words...Chapter 11 will end up being Chapter 7 within 12-18 months if not sooner.
  27. Vanlingleipa

    Vanlingleipa Disciple (357) May 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Your post has a much better chance of not getting pulled if you edit out all real names
  28. Xul

    Xul Crusader (763) May 18, 2008 California

    If there was a lawsuit between Steve Meadows/ECBC and the architect in question, then the architect's name is a matter of public record anyway. I see your point, but it seems like deleting a post with info that's public record would be rather silly.
  29. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    It's not hearsay anyway since the person posting was an owner and was directly involved with all the other parties. I don't see an issue with posting of names.
    Beerandraiderfan and DoughIn like this.
  30. JRSD

    JRSD Initiate (155) Oct 27, 2006 California
    Beer Trader

    dough actually didn't say anything bad about the architect in his post, it was the other poster who slammed the architect and dough just publicly identified someone who was hired as an architect for the project which may or may not have already been public info as part of a lawsuit.

    hearsay or not it might violate the site rule against posting personal info causing the whole thing to be removed. Given that a couple of the posts seem to contain statements that would likely be defamatory if not true I am surprised the thread has hung around this long. Mark down everyone in this thread as people who do not report posts wantonly.
  31. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (971) Sep 4, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Same question I had and same experience. I quite liked what I tried a year ago. I am returning to SD in 2 months and was considering stopping by again. After all this and wanting MORE from the local government I will not. Fail with your own money.
  32. ECBC

    ECBC Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2012

  33. ECBC

    ECBC Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2012

    I have always been taught that “there are two sides to every story”. But, I will not be making rebuttal statements to the vast commenting that has been ongoing for the past few months, not now nor in the future.

    I will make one clarification however: David Meadows hired an attorney in approx. April of 2012. His attorney pursued, on his behalf, to have the business buyout his interest in the Corporation, as he was Vice President and a 50% shareholder. After approx. 30 days of negotiation between his attorney and ours, David Meadows and his wife agreed to a settlement. It was duly signed by David and his wife, as well as all other board members. He has been paid in full and the contract was followed to the letter.

    Your member Hophead84 said it best, “ How were you forced out if you had equal ownership? That’s a great question. The answer of course is they can’t. And in this case a signed legal agreement was entered into and completed.

    David Meadows is a very talented brewer. I hope and pray that David grows from this experience and I wish him the very best in any and all of his future endeavors.

    Stephan Meadows
    President - El Cajon Brewing Co.
  34. BrianTheBrewer30

    BrianTheBrewer30 Aspirant (211) Nov 17, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Wow this shit is like old Oprah and Jerry mixed into one big mess.
  35. Shagtastic

    Shagtastic Initiate (0) Jul 30, 2011 Indiana

    Good God Stephan he's your brother. The way you just brushed him off like a fly and a former employee makes me hope you fail miserably. If you cannot defend yourself from any allegation then why would anyone believe you?
  36. pinkgrenade

    pinkgrenade Aspirant (245) Aug 19, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    this is the best thread
    jmgrub, Hatzilla, dimce and 6 others like this.
  37. sbuysse

    sbuysse Initiate (132) Sep 30, 2005 Arizona

    Could Alpine Beer Co step in and brew here?
  38. Flounder57

    Flounder57 Poo-Bah (2,285) Feb 22, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Like the story always goes, family is the first to screw you over. Everybody seems to have one in their immediate families.
    huadog, grandmachine and Hatzilla like this.
  39. SDDanC

    SDDanC Initiate (0) Mar 1, 2011 California

    I had craft beer knowledge.
  40. besaunders

    besaunders Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2007 California

    I now feel good that I put this thread on "watch". Good stuff here!
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