Kris Parker, grandson of the late Fess Parker, is working to open Santa Barbara’s newest brewery operation.
With the help of a few friends, family members and business partners, Parker is bringing Third Window Brewing to the new commercial development known as The Mill at the corner of Laguna and Haley streets. He’ll be joined by winemaker Dave Potter, who is launching his second label, Potek, in the same development along with a restaurant concept called Wildwood Kitchen launched by husband and wife duo Justin and Emma-Claire West, owners of Restaurant Julienne.
Third Window will get its start on hand-me-down equipment that Placentia-based The Bruery originally started brewing on. Patrick Rue, founder of The Bruery, is a partner in Third Window and offered the brewhouse on which his company got its start. Kris’ father, Eli Parker, CEO of the Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, is also behind the project.
The operation will run up to eight fermentation tanks to start. The brewery, which will have an on site taproom much like its nearby neighbor Telegraph Brewing Co., is about 5,000 square feet with anticipated production of 1,600 to 2,000 barrels in its first year.
“I’ve spent nearly my entire life watching and participating in the ebb and flow of Santa Barbara wine,” Parker told the Business Times. “I love the wine business and I love the way that wine, when created in an uncompromising fashion, can tell the story of a year’s weather and activity from the perspective of a singular place. I think there’s room for that idea in beer.”
Parker said the freedom to create, rapidly iterate and improve the liquid is what turned his attention to the beer business.
“I spent eight years or so working on beer concepts and collaborated on the business plan with friends from business school,” he said. “All of the core partners hold an equal membership in Third Window and were selected first because they were friends, and second because their skill sets were complementary.”
Third Window is anticipating a fall opening. The brewery is currently winnowing the field in search of its brewmaster and plans to hire about eight employees.
“We are being extremely selective in our search for a brewmaster,” Parker said. “We have narrowed the search to three to four candidates. Between Patrick and Eli’s beer [and] fermentation knowledge, we are confident we’ll have great beer and are looking for a person who will fit and contribute to our culture.”
Big Dog is back
A once celebrated Santa Barbara-based brand is returning to the city’s main retail corridor.
Big Dog Sportswear, which used to host a parade through downtown, recently inked a new lease deal for the former Territory Ahead space at 400 State St. Banners announcing the company is hiring for the location are hanging in the windows.
The Territory Ahead space has sat vacant since the company closed its doors in 2012, recently reopening just up the street at 515 State St. Similarly, Big Dog used to sell its goofy T-shirts and famous shorts from a storefront at 25 W. Anapamu St. before the company’s popularity waned and sales dropped. At one point, Big Dog owned 200 stores across the United States and one in Puerto Rico, and the company’s retail sales accounted for more than 90 percent of its total revenues. The company also had a line of children’s apparel stores called Little Big Dogs and marketed a line of Big Big Dogs sportswear, designed for big and tall customers. Its wholesale division used to sell Big Dog sportswear to specialty stores and upper-scale department stores such as Dillard’s and Nordstrom.
The company expanded rapidly through the 1990s and eventually went public in 1997. During the 2000s, Big Dog landed a number of licensing deals from pet stores to food and beverage manufacturers.
Big Dog later changed its name to The Walking Co. and started focusing on footwear. The Walking Co. expanded rapidly between 2005 and 2008. But as the retail environment turned sour, the company struggled, shuttering and then finally selling its Big Dogs clothing chain in March of 2009 to focus on footwear. The Walking Co. filed for bankruptcy in December the same year.
According to the company’s websites, Big Dog Sportswear operates five stores with locations in Nevada, Alabama, Florida, Missouri and Tennessee. The new lease in Santa Barbara puts the company at the “entrance” of downtown, according to leasing broker Blake Andrews with Presidio Commercial Real Estate. “This will be a combination of turning the lights back on after years of being dark, in a high identity building, by a tenant that has deep Santa Barbara roots,” he said in an email to the Business Times.
• Contact Elijah Brumback at [email protected]