Family first for Five Suits Brewing

Cancer diagnosis leads owners of family-run Vista brewery to put their successful business on the market

It was the summer of 2020 and the Coronavirus was running rampant when Nick and Kandy Corona (pictured above) opened the doors to their Vista business, Five Suits Brewing. The timing and conditions were far from optimal, but despite the multitude of obstacles stacked against them, the married couple forged forward. And they did so with Nick’s parents in tow. Joe and Leslie Corona’s support and presence – sometimes behind the bar – was key to creating the inviting, authentically warm atmosphere Five Suits’ customers have grown to love and come back for. That reliable regular patronage is what has made the business a success amid four of the hardest years in craft-beer’s modern era.

“For those who have met my mom, they know they’re going to get an earful about all of us and how we got here. At the same time, I’m always the first to jump on the microphone and ensure that everyone in the tasting room knows that she was California’s very first female highway patrol officer,” says Nick. “We’ve run this as a family business through and through, and we’ve stuck together and supported one another in every possible way. Being able to constantly rely on one another has been invaluable through it all.”

Being there for one another was key in not only getting up-and-running and finding success at a time when many of Five Suits’ contemporaries took massive hits or had to shutter. Together, the family fought hard and persevered to create something special, but now it’s time to take on another challenge, one they have deemed formidable enough for them to turn their attention away from their business so they can once again be there for one of their own.

The following is a portion of a message posted to Five Suits’ social-media accounts this morning…

Family will always take priority over everything in life. With that clear and simple thought in mind, difficult decisions are sometimes made clear when things are put into perspective. Having received news that our Patriarch Joe Corona has been diagnosed with cancer, we have decided to go public with and expedite the sale of our brewery.  

Five Suits has been debt-free since its second year in business, and its lease runs through September of next year with a five-year option that would extend to 2030. The Coronas are currently in discussions with several interested buyers they say will have priority over parties making offers from now through the end of the month, when they hope to have a sale finalized.

The Coronas started exploring ways to enter the brewing industry in 2019. Nick was coming off an impressive streak that saw him named Homebrewer of the Year at the 2016 National Homebrew Competition, the 2017 California State Homebrewer of the Year and Grandmaster at the 2018 Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing. Going pro was the next logical step and there were plenty of local beer fans interested in seeing how well his skills would translate to the commercial arena. The trick was finding the right spot to put down roots.

Five Suits was originally set to open as part of a collective in downtown Escondido that also included Notorious Burgers, Good Omen Mead and Stoke Distilling Co., but a number of issues caused the tenant partnership to fall apart. All of that took place in the fall of 2019, around the time Vista’s Barrel Harbor Brewing was closing down. After hearing about the availability of that company’s industrial suite, the Coronas were able to strike a deal with its owner to take it over.

With the help of their parents and brother, Shane Smith, they quickly redid the brewery’s tasting room component, outfitting it in a Rat Pack-era, old Las Vegas motif; a nod to the city where Nick and Kandy met while he was working as a casino manager and she as a showgirl. Featuring a stage with lush blue curtains, neon signage and a crystal chandelier hanging over a gaming table-esque bar with casino-style seating, the space has played host to countless musical and comedy acts, providing another bankable revenue source for the business.

Five Suits Brewing
Photo: Matt Furman

The Coronas are happy to report that the business has been profitable for some time and is in a good place for whoever ends up taking it over. As conveyed in their social-media post, their 10-barrel brewhouse “runs like a charm” and their brewery’s compact, workable footprint equates to “a brewer’s dream”. As they field offers, they hope to find new owners similar to themselves.

I’d love to see this go to another family looking to start their first business or maybe an accomplished homebrewer looking to make the jump like I did. People absolutely love what we have right now, and I’m willing to train and consult if that’s necessary. With that having been said, unfortunately, due to my father’s cancer diagnosis, we’re not going to wait too long for the ideal buyer. Hopefully we find a buyer that fits the bill, but right now, making our family available to be there for my father is the outright priority.”

Nick Corona, Co-founder & Brewmaster, Five Suits Brewing

The Coronas say it will be business as usual at Five Suits as they search for a buyer. Service will continue uninterrupted under normal hours of operation, with live entertainment and weekly cornhole tournaments taking place as scheduled.

“We have met so many beautiful people here that have become just like family to us and that’s truly the hardest part of selling the business. I do, however, know that those friendships will last for years and years to come,” says Nick. “It’s become one of the most special parts of being business owners for us and we wouldn’t trade that for the world.”

Individuals interested in discussing this opportunity are welcomed to contact the Coronas via email

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