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Meet Clay Summers of Young Hickory

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clay Summers.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Clay. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m originally from a rural farming town in Oklahoma. My high school graduating class had 25 students (5 of which were exchange students). I knew I didn’t want to become a farmer at a pretty early age. I was always interested in CDs and t-shirts, so that let me into a graphic design in college. After getting my degree, I spent a few years working in corporate graphic design and eventually decided to start my own studio. I had my own design business for a few years but I started to see the industry changing and had grown tired of sitting at a computer all day, so I started considering other career avenues.

Once or twice a week, I would work remotely in the space that’s now Young Hickory in North Park (formerly Filter Coffee House). I had no experience in the service industry at that point (never pulled an espresso shot, never waited tables). So, coming in as a customer at the time I would imagine the place being something else that fit the neighborhood culture, and more than anything would be a spot that I would enjoy working from or hanging with friends in. As luck would have it, I found out that the owner was considering doing something else. We had a few talks and he eventually helped me open Young Hickory.

Has it been a smooth road?
In general, things have gone relatively smooth. The neighborhood was ready and willing to support a place that offered the type of environment and products that we offer. Most of the struggles were related to the stark career change I made. Learning a whole new industry, managing employees, dealing with all the small business minutiae, and so on, were all a pretty steep learning curve. For the most part, we were welcomed with open arms to the community.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Young Hickory – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The primary concept of the business is creating a somewhat non-traditional combination of coffee and beer. We are also very focused on being welcoming and nice to people in general. Not being an expert on the origin of each coffee or the exact hop profile of a craft beer doesn’t mean that people can’t casually enjoy it. We want to maintain a space that is comfortable for people to create connections; in the end, that’s what’s most important.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
You can’t beat the amount of activities you can do year-round in San Diego and the surrounding areas. Surfing in the morning, snowboarding in the afternoon, camping in the mountains in the evening; it’s such a unique offering that not many other places can offer. Heading across the border to Mexico is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and experience another culture in another country!

With the growth of San Diego comes to some challenges as well. We are seeing increased traffic on the highways, skyrocketing housing prices, and an ever-growing homeless community. These are complicated issues, but hopefully, we will see some changes for the better in the future.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4096 30th Street San Diego, CA
    92104 Young Hickory East Village (Now Open!)
    810 13th Street San Diego, CA 92101
  • Website:
  • Phone: North Park: 619-795-6574 / East Village: 619-501-5263
  • Email:
  • Instagram: younghickorysd
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter: younghickorysd

Image Credit:

©Gary Payne Photo

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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