The building that used to house a Pismo Beach icon has been demolished and city leaders are demanding to know why the historic structure was torn down. The building once was the home of Alex Bar-B-Q where locals and visitors alike had enjoyed oak pit BBQ, local wines and drinks since World War II. The restaurant was closed several years ago and the building was set to be renovated by the current owners. The building is owned by Compass Health which also owns Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach and the Custom House in Avila Beach. Kain Construction was handling the remodel.
The building was originally built in the 1930s along the Pacific Coast Highway and is rumored to have a colorful history. Local historians say the building at one time may have operated as a brothel and others say a tunnel leading into the building was used to smuggle alcohol during prohibition.
City manager Jim Lewis says during the renovation, an engineer found a tower that was severely compromised and deemed the work site unsafe. Lewis told KSBY he gave the company the go ahead to tear down the tower, but when he got on site, the whole building had been knocked down. He says stop work signs were immediately posted and now Lewis is threatening fines and revoking the building permit.
"This is unacceptable. This is (not) what was approved. this is a historic remodel, I want the community to see this – this is very important, a historic remodel to a building that was very special to us. We won’t get this now and that is a just a tragedy," said Lewis.
The city council discussed the restaurant and how to move forward tonight at a meeting. Lewis says they will be working to find out how the miscommunication happened and who is responsible. He says the original sign for the restaurant was saved and the city is committed to rebuild.