Albie’s may be gone forever but the Aero Club will live on. The fate of the beloved, seven-decades-old dive bar has been up in the air; last year, longtime owner Bill Lutzius started building a new spot in City Heights called Chinatown Bar and Grill, which opened this summer, and rumors suggested that the landowner of the India Street property might relinquish it to new development.
But Aero Club fans can breathe easy. Lutzius has sold the whiskey temple to the owners of The Waterfront Bar & Grill, another of San Diego’s oldest and most hallowed watering holes. Cousins Chad Cline and Jason “Rocky” Nichols, whose family has run The Waterfront since the 1970s, also bought the land the Aero Club sits on to ensure its longevity; they officially take over operations starting October 1.
Cline and Nichols, who also own Werewolf in the Gaslamp and Banzai in the Midway District, have dive bars in their blood. Devoted Aero Club admirers, they promise not to change a thing save for some minor repairs. Cline, who took over longtime Point Loma dive Club Marina in 2016, tells Eater that the cousins would love to purchase other local dive bar institutions if they become available, just to keep them thriving for generations to come.
Next Wave Commercial’s Paul Ahern, who facilitated the sale, said “In this day in age, we often see landmark venues like the Aero Club become stories of the past due to expiring leases, escalating rents, or making way for new developments. Having worked a lot with Chad and Rocky for the last decade I have always admired their passion for creating neighborhood institutions and simply just making people happy; I couldn’t imagine a better successor for such an iconic establishment.”