Happy Birthday, OPL!
The Biggest Little Music House on the Coast: Brian and Pete Overfelt revitalize the Old Princeton Landing
by Heidi Trilling
August 2012— It’s a typical overcast morning in Princeton, and surfer Brian Overfelt is getting ready to make some magic happen this August at his classic roadside music house.
“By bringing people together for OPL’s second birthday and giving the community a place where they can kick back and hear some good music,” Brian says.
Brian Overfelt is the host of the Old Princeton Landing — or OPL — which he co-owns with his brother Pete. It’s been around for about 30 years, but in 2010, the Overfelt brothers took it over and began a serious revamping.
Before, OPL was a local fixture that was dark and degenerating into unsavory repute, characterized by drug use and continual interactions with the police. Beloved by regulars, it was, frankly, pretty scary to everyone else.
Enter the Overfelt brothers, with toolboxes, fresh ideas and good intentions.
“Contractor and artist friends pitched in,” Brian explains. The brothers did some of the work, too, under the direction of Zac Orange of Innovative Construction. “We gutted nearly everything,” adds his brother Pete, co-owner, sports coach and part-time contractor.
Quality materials were selected. Dated paneling was ripped out, the bar was re-done, unique hand-forged details and a permanent stage were set in place. The result? A completely revitalized intimate-venue interior, ready to showcase musicians and cater to the full-house crowds coming to see them.
“Did you notice the stars?” asks Pete. He’s pointing out the custom-made black brackets above the bar. They’re adorned with designs mirroring the OPL logo. “This is the level of detail we appreciate and want to bring to our customers.”
And customers appreciate it right back.
The Overfelts transformed OPL into a bright, fresh community hub that welcomes both long-time regulars and first-time customers — and families — with big-time hospitality.
“It’s amazing, the change,” says Jeannie Lee, a Foster City mother of two grade-schoolers. “My husband and I come here with the kids and play pool and have lunch. Who would have thought, right? But it’s great now. The food is the best! Hand-cut fries! Handcrafted beers! And Brian greets everyone like a friend. A really cool guy with great stories. This is our place now, when we come to Half Moon Bay to kayak or hike with our boys. Or for date night.”
OPL now offers a super selection of cocktails and over a dozen brews on tap. There are mouth-watering meals served from next door’s Silver Star Grill and Gallery, featuring local, organic ingredients. The burgers are legendary; read the online reviews. And all this in a spacious interior chock-full of pinball and pool.
Both Overfelts say the remodel has been hard work, but good work.
“It’s exciting to build this place up, bring in new acts big and small: local bands just starting out … and then the Donovan Frankenreiters and Neil Youngs,” Brian says. Pete adds: “Brian and I have both worked in music promotion and entertainment. We’re lucky to put all that into OPL, and get it to where our vision is. Overall, it’s great to be a positive influence on the community.”
That includes the surf community, too.
Overhead, lining the rafters, is a rainbow quiver of surfboards from legendary Mavericks Invitational contestants: Flea, Kenny Collins, Twiggy and Peter Mel, to name a few. The boards were graciously loaned to OPL by the surfers — all OPL fans — under the auspices of distinguished surf photographer Doug Acton. The Overfelts, Acton says, “did a great service to our community. Look at the place!” As master of ceremonies and host of OPL, Acton says Brian “revels in life and does a great job of it.”
And it shows.
“It’s the music. … Music is my life. I love it,” Brian says. “I’m into so many other things, too, but music has been a constant passion. Music builds community, makes people happy. I want to make this place the place for music on the Coastside. Right up there with the old Miramar, and Pete Douglas’s Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.”
And building community is what OPL is all about: not only bringing musicians and audiences together, but hosting events to support local non-profit groups including high school sports, Pop Warner, the Coastside Mothers’ Club, the Wounded Warrior Project, etc.
“Brian brings it all together. I’m the silent partner, really. Brian runs the show,” says Pete. “He’s in the trenches at the bar every night … on the phone booking the acts … making everything happen.”
“I’m just the bartender,” Brian says, laughing.
A local surfer, photographer, and marine environmentalist, Brian Overfelt is a powerhouse community activist. “Brian is always on the go,” says surf filmmaker Eric Nelson. “He has several speeds: fast, faster, and finished.”
Nelson continues: “Brian has excelled in bringing new and exciting acts to OPL, such as Sashamon, a new Hawaiian artist. … On any given night, Brian is the chef and the bands are the ingredients.”
Brian not only runs the day-to-day operations of OPL, he is also instrumental in helping organize the Mavericks Invitational surf contest. He is also spearheading the campaign for the much-needed dredging of the Half Moon Bay harbor, working alongside the likes of Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and Representative Jackie Speier. He’s a talented photographer with prints for sale in Harbor Village’s Princeton Yarns Shop. And he was the lead singer in the heavy metal band The Dust.
“Brian is focused and driven as a musician,” says Matt Allen, education specialist and former bass player in The Dust. When it comes to music promoting, Allen says Brian is the best. “He is really connected to all the people in the local scene, and is so well liked.” Josh Jasperson, union electrician and former guitarist for The Dust agrees: “If he ran in an election, Brian would be mayor of El Granada.”
“It’s not just me. It’s a communal effort here,” Brian says. “Pete and I have a great staff. We consult together with our dad on the business decisions, my mom helps out. … It’s really a family-and-friends affair.”
Brian has “never-ending energy,” says childhood friend and filmmaker Curt Myers. “He has ambitions that shoot to the moon and more often than not achieves the goals he sets out to accomplish.”
So, what’s the goal for OPL’s second birthday celebration?
“We’re hoping to throw in a surprise,” Brian says with a smile. “It’ll be big. It’ll be cool, and people will have a good time. We’re absolutely into giving this community a really great celebration. We’re committed to that.”
Where does this come from, Brian’s unending drive to make things right for the environment, to make people in the community happy?
“I think I’ve been really blessed with the life that I’ve been given,” Brian says. “I’ve seen so much, traveled so much, and have met a lot of great people. I think that’s where a lot of it comes from, you know? Just really appreciating where I’ve been, where I am, what I have: that I was raised by great parents, have a good family, good friends … and that I get to live here by this beautiful, special reef. All of that is in me, wanting to get out! Sometimes it’s through music, sometimes it’s through getting the harbor dredged … sometimes it’s through giving a new band the stage. … It’s all good. … I’m glad I can give back, glad I can help out.”
The Old Princeton Landing is at 460 Capistrano Road in Half Moon Bay; the phone number is 650-728-7096.