Moving, shaking, brewing

Urge Gastropub owners move on from Vista bowling alley to O-side brewpub

Grant Tondro
  • Grant Tondro

It’s been nearly two years since Urge Gastropub co-owner Grant Tondro announced a grand scheme to convert a former Vista fitness center into a combination brewpub, bottle shop, and bowling alley. That ambitious interest was to be named Urge: Craft Alley, with its brewing component dubbed Project X Brewing Company.

URGE American Gastropub

16761 Bernardo Center Drive, Rancho Bernardo

After two years of trying to close the deal and smooth things out with regulating agencies, Tondro and business partners Nate and Zak Higson are x-ing this item off their (rather long) list of projects and shifting their attention to another brewpub concept: Urge Gastropub – Oceanside.

Everything about the brewing operation that was to be installed at Craft Alley will find its way to a 9200-square-foot building at 2002 South Coast Highway. Fifteen hundred square feet will be devoted to the brewery, which will likely operate under the name Mason Ale Works.

From the beginning, Tondro has had former Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey and Boulevard Brewing brewer Mike Rodriguez slated as his choice to head beer production. Assisting him will be Jason De La Torre, formerly of Saint Archer Brewery and Golden Road Brewing. A ten-barrel brewhouse will soon be up and running, boiling up wort for mostly classic West Coast styles, including a hoppy pale ale, hop-driven amber ale, India pale ale, and saison. Spirit barrel-aged and sour ales, beers Rodriguez had extensive experience with at his former posts, are also in Mason’s plans.

The new property’s bar will be equipped with 41 taps dispensing house beers along with a line of beers similar to those of Urge’s original restaurant in Rancho Bernardo. There will also be bottled beer and more than 300 varieties of whiskey (mostly bourbon) when it opens. Some of that firewater will make it into cocktails devised by mixologist consultancy Rumbling Tins Co.

Urge's floor plan for their Oceanside gastropub

Urge's floor plan for their Oceanside gastropub

The cocktails will be available at both a 70-seat bar and a 30-to-40-seat speakeasy in a bank vault from the site’s previous life. That component will likely go by the handle 101 Proof, referring to both alcohol and the highway the gastropub will abut.

Back in the over 5000-square-foot dining room and bar (which will give way to a 1500-square-foot patio along Coast Highway), the menu will be the same as that of the restaurant’s RB predecessor, right down to the executive toque.

Chef Mark Liautard has been freed up from his exec duties at Urge sister restaurant The Barrel Room, so he can better oversee this venture, which is scheduled to open sometime this summer. The aesthetic will be similar to the RB Urge, but different enough that it won’t feel like a link in a chain. That is important to Tondro, who has a local artist working on a large mural for the building’s exterior.

Urge Gastropub – Oceanside will essentially be located midway between two other popular North County coastal brewpubs — Bagby Beer Company and Pizza Port Carlsbad. Each is just over a mile away, but Tondro believes there is enough distance between them that they won’t cannibalizing off each other. If recent trends ring true, it’s likely the trio of brewing venues will create a beer-tour-able route that will benefit all three as well as nearby businesses Breakwater Brewing Company and Stone Company Store – Oceanside. Tondro likes the idea of creating an "O-side slide" similar to North Park’s popular “SD Drinkabout.”

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