MAY 06, 2020 05:00 AM

Templeton resident Jeff Bertoni was settling into retirement as an oil industry worker when his friend Danny Jones convinced him to partner in a new coffee shop and bar in Morro Bay.  Jones, who owned Dark Nectar Roaster and Coffee Saloon in Atascadero, wanted to open a similar business along the North Coast.

They found a spot down the road from Spencer’s Fresh Market grocery store on Morro Bay’s north end — the former home of Buoy Tavern. They planned to revamp the building and bring back a friendly local vibe.

Signing a lease in October 2019, the partners ripped out much of the building’s interior to prepare for upgrades while retaining the dive bar’s familiar aluminum-and-barn wood exterior. The building’s owner installed a new roof and sewer and water lines.  “Danny knew how to set it all up, and get the permitting and work with inspectors, because he’d done it before,” Bertoni said.

Joe Hamby, another friend and fellow North County native, signed on to co-own the business. (Bertoni graduated from Paso Robles High School, and Hamby graduated from Templeton High School.)  “The city inspectors and others have been really helpful to guide us through the process, knowing we hadn’t done this before,” Bertoni said.  Bertoni and Hamby painted the former Buoy Tavern, a popular “dive” bar that closed in 2018. They also installed new floors, and cleaned furiously to spruce up the interior, bringing in new equipment that proved more expensive to set up than they had anticipated.


Bertoni and Hamby opened Dark Nectar Coffee Saloon for takeout service, and the business was warmly welcomed by many locals in its first weekend.  Dark Nectar Coffee Saloon serves coffee, beer, wine and kombucha, as well as limited food options including quiche, breakfast burritos and tri-tip sandwiches.  With Hamby manning the barbecue as the coffee bar’s cook, Dark Nectar Coffee Saloon sold out of tri-tip sandwiches in its first three days of operation.  “So many people have come and told us about how they’re so supportive,” Bertoni said. “They keep saying how appreciative they are of us being there. We tell them we appreciate you guys more.”

Bertoni said the business will have 17 beers on tap, including locally owned beers produced by Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and BarrelHouse Brewing Co.  They’re also working with a new Paso Robles brewery, California Coast Beer Co., to add two new beers to their tap.  Bertoni said he’s still considering how many different types of wines he’ll offer. The business buys its coffee from the Dark Nectar roasting company, now operated by Jones’ family, in North County.


Jones’ grown children have come to visit Dark Nectar Coffee Saloon to see the culmination of their father’s vision.

“They’re very glad we continued on and got it done,” Bertoni said. “They’re happy with how it turned out.”

Bertoni said the business is currently open for takeout with curbside pickup and can also deliver for customers who live nearby.

He said the coffee bar is now open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but will expand to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. when it’s fully open for sit-down service.  Dark Nectar Coffee Saloon has a staff of five and plans to hire more employees when restaurant service expands.

“(The coronavirus) situation wasn’t what we had planned for when opening a new business,” Bertoni said. “But it’s good in some ways because it’s like a soft opening. We can see what’s working and what needs tweaking before we’re running full capacity.”