Company Description

619 Distillery & Tasting Room (“619”) will debut San Diego's first urban craft distillery and tasting room with a full restaurant and bar, located in the heart of the city's hip North Park neighborhood. Brought to you by the makers of Six One Nine Vodka, the San Diego-based vodka maker is known for its premium handcrafted vodka and signature all-natural vodka infusions. Named for the city's primary area code, Six One Nine Vodka launched in 2012 and is widely available in bars and restaurants as well as retail outlets throughout the San Diego area.

Founder Nick Apostolopoulos, a former software architect and long-time spirits aficionado, recognized that San Diego needed its own super-premium handcrafted vodka. At the time, local and state laws made it nearly impossible to establish a distillery within the city limits. By 2015, regulations loosened, and Six One Nine Vodka began entirely producing its award-winning vodka in the city of San Diego. Six One Nine Vodka is distilled entirely from cane sugar (most vodkas use wheat or corn) resulting in a uniquely clean and smooth texture and natural absence of gluten.

Critical to Six One Nine Vodka's long-term vision and growth in the San Diego market is the opening of the city's first urban craft distillery and tasting room with full restaurant and bar. Recently amended Prohibition-era laws now allow distilleries to produce and sell bottles for home consumption under one roof. Located in the vibrant North Park area – known for its Craftsman bungalows, art galleries, critically acclaimed restaurants and a myriad of nightlife options – the 619 Distillery & Tasting Room will occupy 4,200 square feet of a reclaimed industrial space at the corner of 30th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The distillery portion of the space, open to the public for tours, will house a custom-made two-column 1,000L still. The adjacent tasting room will be anchored by a large bar featuring spirits and cocktails by both 619 and other local distilleries. Chef Sean Ames will lead the kitchen, and is currently developing a dynamic menu of seasonal offerings that will complement the tasting room’s craft cocktail offerings.

Apostolopoulos conceptualized the 619 Distillery & Tasting Room as a central gathering place for the community: cocktail classes, summer BBQs and art events are all on the horizon. Artist Jason Feather is producing several custom works for the space, including a large graffiti installation on the dog-friendly outdoor patio. The Tasting Room & Restaurant portion of the project is slated to open in April 2018.

Business Model

The 619 Distillery & Tasting Room will have two primary sources of revenue: food and beverage sales from the tasting room and restaurant as well as product, tour and event sales from the distillery.

Tasting Room & Restaurant

Located in its own freestanding building at the front of the property, the Distilery & Tasting Room will be a unique addition to the already venerable dining core of North Park along 30th Street.

A robust cocktail program will highlight 15-20 core cocktails as well as a menu of 15-20 constantly evolving creations based on Six One Nine's signature infusions. A menu of refined classics inspired by local ingredients – think Carnitas Tacos, Pork Chops and Burgers – influenced by the diversity of the region will complement the beverage program. Unique incorporations of made on site spirits, such as fettucine pasta with house made Six One Nine vodka sauce, will also be available. The 619 Tasting Room will also be the only bar in San Diego to serve every craft spirit made by every craft distillery in Southern California.

More than just a nightlife destination, the tasting room and restaurant will be open for weekday lunch and weekend brunch, open from 11 am to 11 pm during the week and 11 am to 2 am on weekends. The 619 team is currently exploring unique technological integrations that will allow guests to order and potentially pay from tablets on each table.

The interior of 619's Tasting Room and Restaurant will be urban and industrial yet warm and inviting, keeping in line with the aesthetic of a functional distillery. The bar – a focal point for the tasting room and restaurant area – is being custom fabricated out of repurposed pallet racks, and a more urban approach to a living wall is in the works for the back patio, incorporating rebar and other rugged elements.

Restaurant guests will also have the unique advantage of being able to purchase their favorite spirits from the bar in bottles to take home.

The Distillery

The North Park distillery for 619 will allow consumers to experience a behind-the-scenes look at the production of Six One Nine's entire product line, including its signature handcrafted infusions.

Six One Nine Vodka's award-winning spirits have garnered the following recognition:

  • 2015 Gold Medal – International Craft Spirits Awards
  • 2013 Gold Medal – San Diego Spirits Festival
  • 2013 Gold Medal – Beverly Hills Spirits Awards
  • 2013 Gold Medal – International Craft Spirits Awards
  • 2012 Silver Medal – SIP Awards

Unlike traditional flavored vodkas, which use syrups and other artificial ingredients to provide taste and color, 619's infusions are all made using whole ingredients – mostly sourced from San Diego. Ingredients added to spirits are subject to a lengthy approval process by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, so 619 submitted several thousand possible flavor combinations up front: this will allow seasonal fusion ideas to go from concept to bottle in 4-6 weeks instead of the usual six months.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States defines small distillers as those producing under 100,000 nine-liter cases a year. In 2003, there were 60 craft distillers in the United States, today there are over 1,000. The American Distilling Institute estimates current growth in the craft spirits category at around 30 percent; analysts believe market share could hit 8 percent by 2020 (Market Watch).

According to analysts at BNP Paribas, whiskey represents 37 percent of all craft labels in the U.S., followed by gin at 13 percent, vodka at 12 percent and rum at 10 percent. Craft vodka represents a substantial growth opportunity: in 2016, 69.8 million 9-liter cases of vodka were sold in the United States generating $5.8 billion in revenue for distillers and accounting for 32% of all spirits volume in the country. Within the vodka category, the most significant levels of growth from 2015-2016 were in the super premium, high end premium and premium categories. Flavored vodkas continue to be extremely popular, accounting for 22% of all vodkas sold in the U.S. (DISCUS).

Growth in craft distilling closely follows increased interest from consumers across the United States in supporting all things artisanal and local. According to a 2016 Travelocity poll, over 80% of Americans prefer to shop and buy local, all things being equal, and according to a 2015 Consumer Reports survey, almost 8 in 10 Americans would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one (, Consumer Reports).

Americans also love to support local businesses when they travel, seizing opportunities to engage with local food and beverage purveyors to learn about specific local offerings. Distillery tourism is on the rise, with Travelocity reporting a 150% increase in booking of experiences related to beer, wine, spirits and cooking in 2016 (

619 will capitalize in San Diego's robust tourism market and consumer interest in craft spirits through the sales of distillery tours and branded merchandise including apparel, barware, cocktail kits, homemade bitters and more.

To heighten brand engagement levels among San Diego residents, 619 will have a regular calendar of event programming including multi-course tasting dinners and release parties for special products. Having a vertically integrated production and sales operation will allow 619 to frequently release special edition products in extremely limited quantities that otherwise wouldn't make it to retail shelves.

Location Analysis

The 619 Distillery & Tasting Room will be located at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and 30th Street (3015 Lincoln Ave, San Diego, CA 92104) in the heart of San Diego’s North Park neighborhood.

Known for its trendy eateries, specialty coffee shops, popular bars and funky boutiques, North Park is situated just north of Balboa Park in San Diego’s uptown area. It is one of America’s hippest neighborhoods, and one of the most in-demand housing markets in America (NBC San Diego).

The average household income in North Park is $63,898, consistent with the greater San Diego metro area, and the population of the neighborhood is 66.2% college educated and 31.1% millennial. The average millennial eats out five times per week, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.

For the past seven years in a row, the city of San Diego has seen consistent increases in tourism levels, with 34.9 million visitors in 2016 (The San Diego Union-Tribune). Last year, tourists to San Diego spent $10.4 billion. Already known for its craft brewery tourism, San Diego is home to more than 140 licensed brewing sites and has been called the “Craft Beer Capital of America.”

Meet the Team

Nick Apostolopoulos

Nick Apostolopoulos has spent 20-plus years as a software developer, architect, consultant, and business owner. In addition to founding various software businesses, he's worked with or consulted for the likes of Microsoft, Qualcomm, Kingston Technology, Intel, and even sports teams like the Denver Broncos and the New York Rangers and Knicks.

His initial foray into the beverage business began with home brewing beer over 25 years ago. Nick enjoyed applying his inner nerd to the art of crafting a tasty beer, but was always eager to apply his skills to the world of spirits. In 2010, he decided it was time to pursue his passion, and began laying the groundwork for what would ultimately become Six One Nine Vodka.

Today Nick has extended his love for the craft to include working with local farmers and others to come up with great fresh vodka infusions, and is even working with a few distillers from other parts of the country on crafting new infused moonshine and gin-style products. All of this is in an effort to expand the Six One Nine portfolio to include cellos and liqueurs, syrups and schrubs, bitters and more.

Nick currently consults for a number of other spirits brands and has recently been tapped to help Knotts Berry Farm develop a signature infused vodka for use in their Southern California park. He has also been a featured spirits presenter at the annual Disney Food & Wine Festival.