New Saddle Bar owners plan to revitalize nightlife in Solana Beach


By Karen Billing

Four local guys are looking to get Solana Beach back in the “Saddle” again.

The energetic foursome of Matt Weaver, Brett Weaver, Mike Garcia and Tom van Betten are aiming to open the new Saddle Bar by Memorial Day in the recently closed McCaffrey’s location on Coast Highway, which was long the location for the Surf and Saddle Bar.

Expect a complete renovation of the bar and a new venue for live music, craft brews and a specialty Bloody Mary that Garcia is cooking up with bacon-infused vodka. The Saddle hopes to have Surf and Saddle throwbacks such as Goldfish races and well-priced, “good” (read: generously poured) drinks.

And the doors won’t close until 2 a.m.

“That’s always been a big issue around here that we hope we’ll improve,” Garcia said.

“We hope to revitalize the nightlife in Solana Beach and have a synergistic relationship with the other restaurants and bars in the area,” said van Betten, adding he hopes folks will stay local in Solana Beach rather than heading out to Encinitas. “We hope to bring back that lively experience of the Surf and Saddle and improve on it.

The four new bar owners received the keys to the Saddle Bar just last week and will take on an ambitious renovation schedule to have the doors open by May 28, Memorial Day.

“It’s important for us to be open by Fiesta del Sol,” said Matt Weaver of the June 2-3 event in Solana Beach. “We want it to be a bar for locals, tourists, the race track crowd, all people who enjoy good music, good service and good people without ever having a cover charge.”

Matt Weaver, a Del Mar resident, has a background in commercial real estate, while his partners know their way around the bar business. Brett and Garcia have managed and opened up bars for the last 13 years in San Diego, spots such as Moondoogies and Sidebar in Pacific Beach; The Fleetwood downtown; and Sandbar in Mission Beach. van Betten is an investor in Encinitas’ D Street Bar and Grill, while also working in commercial real estate.

When van Betten heard the bar had been listed by a broker, the foursome jumped at the chance to make an offer.

“We all used to hang out at the Surf and Saddle a lot before it shut down,” Matt Weaver said. “Everyone was missing it.”

Surf and Saddle closed down in March 2010, giving way to McCaffreys. The Surf and Saddle was known for opening early at 6 a.m. and staying open late, until 2 a.m., and they are hoping the new Saddle can replicate those operating hours.

Music is a passion for the guys and their hope is Saddle Bar will be become a great venue for live music — a stage will be built and there will be an all-new expanded audio and light system.

The exterior will change a bit and the interior will get an updated, modernized look to make it more comfortable and appealing.

The group hopes that the new bar will be a Solana Beach fixture for years to come.

“We plan on being in here for the next 30 years,” said Brett Weaver. “We’ve made a long-term commitment to the neighborhood scene.”

Saddle Bar is located at 123 W Plaza St., Solana Beach, CA 92075-1123.