Here at Landwell we love searching for design inspiration; sometimes that entails a flight across the globe, other times all it requires is taking a walk around our wonderful little city of San Luis Obispo. In the last couple of years one less-alluring section of town has truly grown on us, and it has become a favorite and frequented spot for refreshing our creative vision, along with a glass of wine.
Just south of downtown SLO is an industrial area, speckled with historic remnants of the era of highways and railroads. This stretch of mid Higuera Street between Marsh and Madonna might not look very inviting at first glance, but there are a couple of gems that are definitely worth a visit. First stop, The Station.
At the corner of Walker and Higuera Street, an old 1920's service station that hasn't pumped gas for 35 years has been completely transformed into a polished wine bar and gathering space. The run down, vacant building got a total face lift inside and out after the new owners (who also own Granada Hotel & Bistro downtown) bought it a couple of years ago. It was renovated and restored to retain as much of the original architecture and character as possible, and the result is quite charming!
Upon arrival, it's pretty much impossible not to immediately notice the beautifully planted parking strips, brimming with different succulents of all forms, textures and colors. The Station Wagon is usually parked out front as well; a mint green mobile version of the shop in food truck form, with a vintage vibe to match. The entry is protected by the overhang that once sheltered gas pumps, and just inside is a welcoming and knowledgeable host, local marketplace goodies and shelves stocked with wine bottles from all over the world. In the adjacent room, window-filled garage doors let lots of natural light into the space that once was the mechanic's garage, illuminating the exposed brick walls and large wooden bar tables. In our temperate Central Coast weather the doors can be rolled up for fresh air and easy access during events.
The Station hosts a variety of functions including Art After Dark, several food and wine classes, craft workshops, food truck nights and a pop-up paint and sip program called Art Bar. Even when there isn't an event taking place, The Station is a unique and worthwhile stop to fuel up with wine, bubbly or Root Elixirs soda with spirit, one of our local favorites which you can taste on tap or fill a growler to go!
Just down the block on Walker Street is another diamond in the rough, Appendage + Bough. This funky barn-shaped building may be in an obscure location, sitting askew at the corner of Walker and Pismo Street, but its corrugated metal siding and bright turquoise paint job can't be missed, and what's inside shouldn't be either.
The shop contains an eclectic mix of locally made home decor and gifts, clothing, jewelry, vintage finds and skillfully handmade furniture. The two talented owners Tim Beebee and Ryan Ratzlaff (both hobbyist-turned-professional builders) utilize reclaimed materials, lumber milled in-house, and swap meet treasures to create custom tables and more, for the store, online shop and for commissioned projects. Their truly one-of-a-kind pieces are impeccably finished, while maintaining a rustic retro aesthetic.
A newer addition in the tiny front showroom, meticulously crafted furniture and decor items by If You Give a Girl a Saw (owned by woodworker Janine Stone) and Mikey Gaumann are sure to impress with geometric shapes, clean lines and incredible detail. The pieces feel simultaneously modern and timeless, and that's right up our alley. We recently attended an opening at Appendage and Bough for the duo and won a gorgeous set of hexagon coasters. Best raffle prize, ever! Dropping by A + B during an Art After Dark artist reception, or one of their other lively gatherings? Be prepared to be welcomed with a toasty campfire out front, a glass of wine or a beer, and lots of local love.
As a small new company in San Luis Obispo, it's inspiring to see this collection of brilliant, creative and determined entrepreneurs, sharing spaces and supporting each other to make big things happen, and improving our community while doing so. On top of sharing their craft and talent, these businesses are drawing attention to buildings that have been forgotten and changing the way we perceive them; bringing new life to what once was, pushing through challenges to pay homage in a current context. The perfect combination of old and new. It's encouraging to witness the beginning of the revitalization of a historically valuable area of our city, especially one with such proven potential. We hope the trend to restore and enhance mid Higuera Street continues, and we can't to see what pops up here next!