How a Dad, Two Sons and a Daughter-in-Law are Keeping Del Mar in Rocks and Suds
It all started with a gold strike in a tiny South African town.
The Kolls of Del Mar are so enmeshed with the area that it’s easy to think they’ve always been here. If you’re a local, you’ve likely purchased a piece—or admired a buddy’s bauble—from their third-generation Charles Koll Jewellers. And you’ve surely heard the consistent buzz about their year-old Viewpoint Brewing Co. But neither might exist had gold not been hiding beneath the ground of Welkom, South Africa.
The Track to Del Mar
“My father opened his business in the town specifically because they had found gold,” says family patriarch Malcolm Koll, who spent his boyhood learning the loupe life at his dad’s jewelry store in Welkom.
In 1978, he headed to New York to study watchmaking and to take courses at the Gemological Institute of America. A visit to the California coast at the end of his stay planted the seeds that eventually had Malcolm mulling a new base of operations for Charles Koll Jewellers. So began the talks of a relocation.
“As a family, we decided to move to California,” he says. “Del Mar, in particular, was an obvious winner. Great weather, affordable housing—in 1991 it was!—and a growing community.”
Twenty-seven years later, Malcolm’s two sons are also his business partners. Each is a silent partner in his brother’s company, and their father is a partner in both. It’s a situation Malcolm didn’t see coming.
“For the longest time, Richard had no interest at all,” he says, of son Richard Koll, who now runs Charles Koll Jewellers. “And Charles went a totally different direction; he became a chef,” Malcolm says, of son Charles Koll, who now runs Viewpoint Brewing Co. that sits against San Dieguito Lagoon.
Jewels Meet Brews
Custom jewelry and pale ale aren’t a common combo. But when Malcolm gifted Charles a brew keg, Viewpoint was set in motion. Charles, cooking for Whisknladle Hospitality at the time, shared samples of his beers with co-workers. Soon, owner Arturo Kassel wanted them on the menu.
“It turned out I couldn’t just bring in home-brew kegs. There was no option short of opening a brewery.”
So, the Kolls set about planning the business which, like their jewelry store, would be big on family involvement, short on pretension.
That family would include Richard’s wife, Meghan Koll, who designs the window displays and plans events for the jewelry store. For Viewpoint, she worked with Charles to turn his vision into drawings, while Malcolm and Charles undertook building its furniture.
The result is a family- and dog-friendly spot littered with thought-through touches. On the menu sits an entry for local Chino Farm beet salad and another for “buy a bird a beer.” (The latter gets you a $5 taster, plus a donation to the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.) Around the property, you’ll find tabletops hewn from naturally felled Torrey Pine trees and fixtures made out of pottery left over from the building’s prior life as a ceramics studio. Viewpoint’s special details have even reached the jewelry store, where Champagne flows freely but now three taps also dispense family brews. Soon you may find coffee from a local who sells craft coffee online but wants to offer it exclusively at Viewpoint.
Day-to-Day with Dad
“What could be better than getting to hang out with your sons every day? I think we have a blast,” says Malcolm, who admits “We seldom agree with each other.” But in his estimation that simply makes both outfits better.
“My father was always fond of saying that if two men are in business together and they always agree, then one isn’t needed,” he says.