Brandon Hernández 9 a.m., March 11
Venerable Irish pub lands farm-to-table chef
Brandon Brooks has left the building. That building is the firehouse at Liberty Station converted into a combination grocery and bistro that’s the base for SOL Markets (2855 Perry Road). That business went in back this winter and has since undergone some major alterations. Set up originally as a farmers market people can count on to offer artisan foods and farm-fresh produce from around the county on a daily basis plus offer an in-house dining component, it switched to a business that’s primarily an eatery with the market moving into the subordinate role.
In the midst of these changes, Brooks explored an employment opportunity and, eventually, accepted an offer from the owners of The Field (544 Fifth Avenue) to take over the Gaslamp’s stalwart Irish pub. In the immediate future, he’ll be taking over that kitchen, but there’s another layer to this story—the one that made this job especially appealing to Brooks. He will also be responsible for the food component of an upcoming project being championed by The Field owner Daniel Drayne’s son and daughter, Half Door Brewing Company.
Two weeks ago, wrote about Half Door Brewing, mentioning it was being designed to be something similar to San Francisco’s Magnolia Pub & Brewery. As it turns out, though it was on a list of potential motifs they kicked around, that is not the exact concept they are implementing. Half Door, which will operate out of a turn-of-the-century house a block from Petco Park, will be its own place. In the Draynes’ words, "a site for the sore eyes of urbanites.” The food they someday serve will both pair with and be prepared using beer, something Brooks has plenty of experience with, having spent the two years prior to his involvement with SOL at North Park’s Ritual Tavern. He would seem an ideal candidate to head this brewpub’s food component.
The brewing component will be the responsibility of Daniel Drayne, Jr. who, in addition to studying at the Siebel Institute of Technology and homebrewing for some time, has also spent the past two years working at Coronado Brewing Company. Meanwhile, his sister, Stacy Drayne will take her business degree and experience in the family business and put it to use as Half Door's general manager. These two halves stand a good chance of making a formidable whole.
Half Door will be the second brewpub to land in the East Village and the fourth in Downtown overall, joining new neighbor Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery as well as Karl Strauss Brewing Company and Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant.
Photo © Mike Pawlenty / Chefs Press, Inc.