Downtown complex will be home to beer garden, custom hat shop, Negranti Creamery

ATASCADERO — An efficient and stylish new commercial development will bring three new businesses to downtown Atascadero later this year.  Z Villages Developments Co., Inc., the company behind the La Plaza project, announced last week that they will be building the new development in the empty lot at 6090 El Camino Real, next to the Colony Market & Deli, using a unique and novel construction method. 

Made out of shipping containers — also known as cargo containers or seatrains — the new development will be home to three businesses including Ancient Owl Beer Garden, Stellar and S.U.N Hat Co. and Negranti Creamery. 

Z Villages representative Zoe Zappas said that the unique construction method will mean that the development will be constructed very quickly and should be finished by the end of the year. 

“The cool thing about pre-fab and these shipping containers, what it offers is it shortens the construction time by almost half,” Zappas said. “So you can be working on all of your ground utility improvements and also simultaneously have your shipping containers manufactured off-site so that all you have to do is, with a crane, drop these things onto their paths and then you’re good to go. So we’re pretty excited to test that out.” 

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Although most Z Village developments contain a housing element to go along with the commercial aspects, Zappas said that the company preferred to fast track this project rather than going through the lengthy process of getting the housing element approved by the City. 

“For Z Villages, our goal is to provide more housing to California,” she said. “We’re in a huge deficit for providing housing as a state which is why rental prices are so high, why home prices are so high. So we like to do residential with every project we do, but with this project specifically, it was more important to us to get this going than to wait around and try to get it approved through the City. Residential is difficult, because the City is not necessarily pro-housing — it doesn’t bring a lot of tax revenue to the City so they’re not super incentivized to do more of it. So we just wanted to get it done.”

As soon as word got around that Z Villages was thinking about building a shipping container development in downtown Atascadero, businesses came out of the woodwork to be a part of it. 

“Right off the bat, even before we had a rendering for the site, they just heard whisperings that we were considering doing a shipping container development and they approached us, they wanted it and so we kind of went off and running,” she said.

The first business to approach the Zappas family about the project was Ancient Own Beer Garden and architecture firm RAD LAB out of San Diego designed the building around their needs. 

“They’re the ones who initially approached us and we kind of started the building design off of what they wanted,” Zappas said. “My vision for the space was to have a beer garde, like typical for in Germany, where it’s just like a huge picnic table area with string lights and everything feels kind of nice and good ambiance.” 

Ancient Owl will feature craft beer at a walk-up beer bar built into a shipping container and lined with bar stools along with plenty of covered outdoor seating. 

Fronting El Camino Real will be two retail stores including custom hat maker Stellar & S.U.N. Hat Co., owned by Sabreena Niazi. Niazi’s custom hats have already been a big success and garnered her a faithful following on Instagram. 

“She has a huge following herself and has a waiting list two years long,” Zappas said. “She does all of these custom hats out of, like, beaver pelts and things. So they’re like legit craftsman hats.”

Rounding out the lineup will be Negranti Creamery. The Paso Robles-based business will also be expanding to its second location, specializing in sheep’s milk ice cream featuring locally-sourced ingredients and creative flavors such as Salted Brown Sugar, Blackberry Rosemary, Strawberry Basil and many more. According to Negranti’s web site, sheep’s milk is less than 8 percent fat and “lactose intolerant friendly.” They offer ice cream cones, pints, ice cream sandwiches and more and also have a selection of traditional cow’s milk ice cream. 

Zappas said that Z Villages has submitted construction documents to the City for the project and now they’re just working out some of the final design details. 

“We’re just figuring out the interior design of these spaces and how things are going to fit in,” she said. “It’s a small space so you have to be very intentional about where things go.” 

The project will fill the empty L-shaped lot between Colony Market & Deli and the neighboring building to the south with space in the rear for parking. 

“We’re really, really excited,” Zappas said. “This has been a wonderful creative process.”