San Diego Business Journal

Flying Pig owner Roddy Browning and his wife bought and are remodeling a 1960s era building in downtown Oceanside with proceeds they made in the sale of a Vista restaurant.

The move comes at a time when restaurants are struggling because of the COVID 19 pandemic but Browning said the timing and location worked to their advantage.

“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect,” Browning said.

The deal let him take advantage of IRS tax code provisions to avoid paying taxes on the Vista sale by reinvesting the profits in a similar business.

Their lease was up at the old site. Browning said he could have renewed it for an additional five years, but he said he jumped on the Mission Avenue property when it became available.

The deal also provided an ideal site for the Flying Pig to move from its old location at 626 S. Tremont St. that was tucked away where it wasn’t easily seen.

“I’m very happy to be in a community that has given us everything, I mean everything,” Browning said. “We’re so happy to be a permanent feature.”

The new site is in the heart of downtown Oceanside on Mission Avenue on a rise heading to the beach.

“It’s really going to be an opportunity to showcase the restaurant to people who’ve never been here before,” Browning said.

Browning and his wife bought the double-suite building at 5059 and 5911 Mission Ave. in December for a little more than $1.7 million after selling a Vista restaurant they owned for nearly $1.7 million in November.

Endeavor Bank in Encinitas provided funding.

Half the building is leased to Sandy Toes Gift Store, which will remain.

Hidden secrets

“One of our biggest challenges is it doesn’t look like much from the outside,” Browning said. “It’s a shoebox with windows in the front.”

To help spruce-up the site, Browning is adding a 500 square-foot patio.

“If you stand on the patio and look west toward the ocean, you can see the water. It’s gorgeous,” Browning said.

At various times, the building had been used as a recruiting office, an Internet café, and a ramen restaurant.

“That old building really revealed some beautiful secrets,” Browning said.

In removing a dropped ceiling, Browning uncovered rough redwood beams which he’s leaving in place to make the restaurant ceiling 14-feet tall.

“We kind of held our breaths to go get it tested for asbestos. That came back negative,” Browning said.

Similarly, tearing out plaster walls uncovered striated red bricks.

“This is really a unique style of brick,” Browning said. “They’re old and they’re kind of beat up a little bit so we’re going to have to clean them up but they’re beautiful.”

Browning also tore up the commercial grade tile on the floor to expose the stamped concrete beneath it.

“We’re going to grind that down,” Browning said.

The Look

Browning is fond of reusing old building materials he picks up at demolition sites and incorporating them into the design of his restaurants.

The bar top in Flying Pig is made of a ceiling joist he found in an Escondido building that was being razed and he found a chandelier that he plans to hang from the ceiling in a Rancho Bernardo home that was being remodeled.

“We refinish things, we tear things apart and build things out of them, like used furniture parts and doors,” Browning said. “I never throw anything away. My house looks like a restaurant graveyard. There’s always a use for something.”

The new Flying Pig will be smaller than the original.

“Over the years of running restaurants, I’ve found that smaller can be better,” Browning said.

The decor will be similar to that of the original Flying Pig, which Browning described as “an old baseball glove” and “shabby chic.”

“It’s comfortable, it’s cozy but it’s not in your face,” Browning said.

A collage of mirrors will be behind the bar.

The new restaurant will have indoor seating for 49 people.

“We’ve moving some things around to suit our needs,” Browning said. “We need more room for preparation because we do everything in house.

Browning and his wife grow some of the food served in their restaurant.

“It looks like we’re going to have a pretty decent nectarine and peach harvest,” Browning said.

The Scene

Michelle Geller, Oceanside’s economic developer manager, said the Flying Pig’s move is a sign that the city’s vibrant restaurant scene is still alive, despite the COVID pandemic.

“Some are doing OK and others are at least surviving and now we see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Geller said.

Geller said several restaurants have closed but that’s been offset to some degree by continuing interest among people like Browning and his wife.

“Believe it or not, we’ve had businesses open,” Geller said.

In 2020, 50 new brick-and-mortar businesses including some restaurants opened, Geller said.

“I think people recognize it (the pandemic) is temporary in the grand scheme of things and Oceanside is always going to be a prime spot to have your restaurant or business,” Geller said.

Browning’s Flying Pig restaurant “was really on the forefront of the Oceanside dining scene” when it started to bloom about 10 years ago, Geller said.

Even tucked away as it was before, “They had great success at their location but having a more prominent location where they can capitalize on the beach resort and the growth of downtown is really going to be a great addition.”