Alex Bar-B-Q owners suing contractor for destroying iconic building

August 4, 2019

The owners of the former Alex Bar-B-Q property in Pismo Beach filed a lawsuit on Aug. 2 against the construction company that tore down the historic building, which squelched their plans to remodel the iconic bar and restaurant.

During what was supposed to be a remodel, a contractor tore down the historic Alex Bar-B-Q building in Shell Beach in Sept. 2018. Built in the 1930s, the building has been a local gathering spot for almost 80 years.

Several years ago, the restaurant shut down while its owner at the time, Compass Health, planned a remodeled. During the renovation, an engineer found a tower to be compromised and the worksite was deemed unsafe.

Working under a remodel permit, Kain Construction garnered a permit to tear the tower down. But workers demolished the entire building.

After discovering the demolition, the city posted stop work signs at the site and later revoked all permits.

The lawsuit filed Friday by Playa Dulce, the owners of the property, alleges that under current city building codes the property does not have the parking required for the construction of a new bar and restaurant.

“As a result of Defendants’ breaches of the Oral Contract, Playa DuIce can no longer build a restaurant and bar on the Subject Property and has suffered consequential, special and incidental damages in an amount in excess of $1,150,000, plus interest on said sums at the legal rate of interest as will be proved at trial,” according to the lawsuit.


What was the tower used for?


I think the real issue and claims for damages, rests on the fact that by tearing down the building they completely lost their legal non-conforming status!

By it only being a remodel, many building & planning issues are held in check, once it was torn down completely, all the rules and regulations of a new use now come into play, zoning, design reviews and in this case parking, which probably makes a restaurant not viable for the location!!

Unless it was a hot dog stand in the middle of a parking lot:(


If the city won’t approve a rebuild it should purchase the property at market value and use a parking lot.


Perfect idea. Could be used for the $10,000,000 waste of a bike/horse & hike trail system that never was opened to the public.

coronet blue

Why should the city taxpayers be responsible for the act of the contractor? The conditions and limitations of the remodel were well established before a single thing was demolished.

coronet blue

An “oral” contract for work like this? Are you kidding? Maybe someone hoped the city would say “oh, it was an accident” and let them do what wasn’t permitted in the first place.


The owner had a demolition permit for the tower to be torn down. Usually the permit would define what exactly could be demolished. The permit has to be posted at the site. Either the contractor didn’t bother to read it (hard to believe since his price for his demo work would be based on the scope of work, and he was the one who got the demo permit), or he didn’t make clear the scope of the demo work to his employees. n any event I don’t know how it could be construed to be an oral contract unless there is more to the story.


Wow, this is one of “the Emperor has no clothes” moments- that Alex BBQ building was UGLY, just a box with stucco. To create some sort of huge cultural mystique is really stretching it for sure. Glad to see it gone, nope don’t miss it. Glad they tore it down. BUT…. big oops on the permit amigos. Can’t do that. I say it’s all even though. They did the view a favor.


Agreed. That building was ugly let’s get over it and build something people will want to patronize.