Solana Beach’s Belly Up named Small Business of Year


The Belly Up celebrated its 40th anniversary last year. Continuing to mark milestones, the Solana Beach music venue was recently named the 78th Assembly District’s 2015 Small Business of the Year.

“The Belly Up is a local institution that consistently attracts top talent and has kept faithful patrons coming back for more,” said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. “Co-owners Phil Berkovitz and Steve Goldberg have shown through their hard work just how much of an impact one small business can have on a community. I’m pleased to honor their outstanding efforts.”

Over four decades, the Belly Up has attracted a variety of music acts from across the country and around the globe, including Blink-182, Green Day, Jimmy Buffett, Maroon 5, Mumford & Sons, Switchfoot, Willie Nelson, and most recently, in a private concert, The Rolling Stones.

“It would be difficult to duplicate a place like the Belly Up,” Goldberg said. “It’s the entertainment and it’s in such a cool, beachside community.”

Dave Hodges founded the Belly Up in 1974, but Goldberg of Rancho Santa Fe purchased it 12 years ago with his business partner, Berkovitz, in July 2003.

“We did so because we realized it was such a cool place and we felt we were the right thing to carry on what he had started,” Goldberg said. “We felt that it was very, very important not to see the Belly Up go in another direction. We felt like we were the people for the passing of the torch.”

Since Berkovitz and Goldberg came on board, they have updated the facility and brought in bigger acts. The nightclub has also maintained its connection with the community, hosting fundraisers that benefit a variety of causes, from ALS to Toys for Tots.

About a year and a half ago, the Belly Up launched its own record label, called Belly Up Live, to sell downloads of the live shows.

“We’re working constantly to make it better,” Goldberg said.

Although he noted the “bar’s been raised pretty high with The Rolling Stones,” Goldberg said the Belly Up “will continue to bring the best live music and entertainment to San Diego and Southern California.”

Of the 78th Assembly District’s 23 nominees, the Belly Up was selected as the Small Business of the Year. The local landmark will be honored during an award ceremony June 10 in Sacramento.

“It’s an honor coming from someone so esteemed,” Goldberg said. “It is such a legendary place in Solana Beach, so it’s really cool it’s recognized as being such. We appreciate it.”

The Belly Up is at 143 South Cedros Ave. in Solana Beach.

For more about the Belly Up, call 858-481-8140 or visit