The History of CBC

The Coronado Brewing Company (CBC) has had tremendous success over the past 16 years, but even our most loyal customers may not know the whole history of this piece of property.

Beginning in 1886 car-carrying ferryboats arrived at this section of town – First Street and Orange Avenue – to offload workers, supplies, and eventually guests destined for the elegant Hotel del Coronado, located on the other side of town.

The Coronado Ferry Landing in 1886. Everyone coming to Coronado came through the Coronado Ferry Landing for many years, as the Silver Strand was nothing more than a slushy sandbar. Notice the various modes of transportation. From top left, the ferryboat Silvergate; to the right is the ferryboat Coronado with steam up; and on the other side of the building is the ferryboat Benecia. A steam locomotive stands ready to carry two excursion cars filled with people; while two horse-drawn carriages stand at the ready to the far right.

While people waited for the ferry, or for their ride across Coronado, they would shop and stroll. It didn’t take long for early entrepreneurs to realize opportunity existed at this end of town too.

An early drug store was built at the corner of Second and Orange. There were a handful of eateries, hotels, stables, and other small businesses, including a nursery and a brothel. There was even a Catholic church. And within a few years the Lubin Silent Film Studios occupied two lots in that block.

Movie star, tap dancer and cartoon show host Johnny Downs passes Pete's Market, where the Coronado Brewing Company stands today, during an early July Fourth Parade in Coronado circa 1960.

Docks were put in to house the deep-water sailing ships laden with cargo. A rail spur branched off to North Island, crossing the large waterway separating north and south Coronado islands where Fourth Street is today. This waterway was called the Spanish Bight.

Early occupants on the property CBC included the Ferry Market and Pete’s Market. Just before WWII, until the early 1970s, this site was a favorite breakfast eatery known as Papa Tom’s. Here you could explore the blackest coffee and some of he best eggs on the island.

Papa Tom's Food To Go was a favorite eatery. This is the future site of the Coronado Brewing Company.

On any given day at Papa Tom’s you could find old sailors, ferryboat drivers, taxi operators, off-duty cops, and a wide variety of Coronado’s social strata. Customers would perch themselves at the bar with a newspaper and a pot of coffee and sit for hours at a time.

A menu from Bula's Pub & Eatery, which eventually became the Coronado Brewing Company.

In the 1980s Papa Tom’s was knocked down and Bula’s Pub & Eatery took its place. Owned by long-time Coronado resident and restaurateur Steve Lindsey, Bula’s rapidly became the place to eat, drink, or just be seen. Legendary (and controversial) brick mason Bud Bernhard put in the elaborate curved brickwork on Bula’s Pub. Much of it still remains.

Celebrity bartenders could be found at Bula’s. One of the most notable was Nick Reynolds, original member of the Kingston Trio, and a long-time Coronado resident. The clientele was high class and worldly, some literally stepping off their cruising yachts and walking in the front door.

In 1988 another level of fame came to that section of town. The New Zealand America’s Cup team moved to Coronado to challenge Team Dennis Conner for the oldest trophy in sports, the 1851 America’s Cup.

Brothers and co-founders of the Coronado Brewing Company, Ron (left) and Rick Chapman.

Along the way the Kiwis adopted Bula’s as their unofficial headquarters, and every night would find them drinking their Steinlagers in extra large portions (called “Stein-grenades” and “Stein-bombs”), and chanting well into the night like something one might imagine from overworked and over indulged warriors during the Crusades. The Kiwi sailors nicknamed our island “Kiwinado.”

In 1996 the land at 170 Orange Avenue was to take on another manifestation when Brothers Ron and Rick Chapman, whose family date back more than a hundred years in Coronado, founded the Coronado Brewing Company.

Since the opening in August of 1996, CBC has expanded it’s dining area twice, undergone countless renovations, and in 2006 tripled its brew house capacity when it acquired the neighboring property and installed a dozen, 20-barrel fermenting tanks. And we plan on making great food, brewing craft beer and will continue renovating and improving this historic piece of property we call home for many years to come….

The Coronado Brewing Company's rolling mascot, Olive Oyl - a 1924, Model T C-Cab. The truck drives the streets of Coronado on a daily basis, logging 100 miles a week as it redefines the term, "Advertising Vehicle."

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