Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. co-founder James Dietenhofer made it a point to put a smile on his customer’s faces.
“Beer is a social medium. And he embraced that part of the business. He was like the mayor,” said James Dietenhofer’s son and business partner, Jaime Dietenhofer.
The two co-founded the company in 2010.
“When I was a kid, he used to tell me to make one person smile every day. I didn’t understand what that meant at the time. ? I think he felt that was the right way to treat people and you get something back too when you do it,” said Jaime Dietenhofer.
James Dietenhofer died July 20 after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Jaime Dietenhofer said his father was diagnosed last September, but likely had fought the cancer for years without knowing it.
James Dietenhofer is survived by his wife, Judie; his daughter. Heather Itzla, and her husband, David; his son, Jaime Dietenhofer, and his wife, Meighan; and four grandchildren.
Jaime Dietenhofer said after coming home from Vietnam in 1969, his father took a road trip from North Carolina to California with a friend and never went back.
In 1972 he worked in the Los Angeles precious metals industry and eventually started his own precious metals business, Summit International, in 1979 in Ventura.
As a child Jaime Dietenhofer said he always admired his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to follow his example by starting a brewing company. James Dietenhofer advised his son to go to college, then go to grad school.
“I eventually started my own business, but I never stopped dreaming of opening a brewery. Finally, I told him I was going to do it and (he) wanted to be a part of it,” Jaime said, joking that he pulled his father out of his semi-retirement.
James was hands-on when it came to the business and would travel between their taprooms in Buellton, Arroyo Grande, Santa Maria, Los Olivos, Santa Barbara and Westlake Village, Jaime said.
“No task was too low or unimportant and he would never ask someone to do something that he wasn’t prepared to do himself,” everything from overseeing operations to cleaning and pouring beer for customers, Jaime said.
“He was my best friend. He believed in people and their potential and be brought that (idea) into his business and his (personal) life.”
A service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Mark’s-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church in Los Olivos. A reception will follow at 4:30 p.m. at the Figueroa Brewing taproom in Buellton.