Looks like my burger buds are on to their next project. The owners of Rancho Bernardo’s Urge Gastropub, a trio that also owns RB businesses The Barrel Room and Brothers Provisions, have announced plans for an upcoming fourth operation—a combination brewpub, bottle shop and…wait for it…bowling alley to be based in the former 22,000-square-foot site of a Bally’s Total Fitness on Hacienda Drive in Vista.
All of the group’s existing businesses center around the finer things in life—wine, artisan edibles, cigars and, most notably, craft beer. Still, it’s somewhat rare for entrepreneurs to go from dealing in beer to producing it on their own. Add in the bowling alley aspect of the new project, which is going by the working title of Urge: Craft Alley, and you have one massive and unexpected undertaking. But, it’s certainly an interesting and fun concept.
The project site is a half-acre and comprised mostly of indoor space, which will accommodate over 400 visitors to the restaurant while leaving room for a 15-barrel brewhouse and accompanying cellar, the on-site bottle shop, and eight standard-sized bowling lanes. Owner Grant Tondro says Urge: Craft Alley is larger than all three of their other businesses combined.
Tondro and company are currently in negotiations with a brewer. Once in place, that individual will be in charge of crafting a wide-ranging variety of beers; enough to keep five-to-ten of the 51 total taps at Urge: Craft Alley flowing with house beers at all times. They will have the ability to get up to 102 taps eventually, but are concerned about maintaining quality lines and serving beer properly, so instant expansion is not a priority. Additionally, they plan to implement an extensive barrel-aging program and package specialty beers in wax-dipped 22-ounce bombers. Total annual production will be capped at 5,000 barrels under the terms of their license, and the name of the brewery component will be Project X Brewing Company.
But the beer program won’t be all about house-made liquid assets. Tondro intends to be a good neighbor and will be making a call to all members of the Vista Brewers Guild guaranteeing any brewing company that operates within Vista’s city limits a tap handle at Urge: Craft Alley. It’s a bold move, especially in a municipality that is currently home to eight breweries. The bottle shop will also feature some locals and is planned as a miniature version of Brothers Provisions, which opened late last year and includes a solid selection of craft beer as well as charcuterie items and packaged luxury edibles.
In addition to craft beer, an advanced craft cocktail program will be installed with the help of numerous bartenders from Little Italy’s vaunted bar-and-restaurant, Craft & Commerce. They are consulting and training staff to bring the type of cocktail experience North County San Diegans typically need to migrate far south for to their own neck of the woods. The tipple menu will be available along with a food menu that, at first, will mirror the bill of fare from Urge Gastropub. However, once things are running smoothly at Urge: Craft Alley, Tondro and company will bring on new items which may include pizza.
When asked, “why bowling?” Tondro’s reasons were three-fold. He likes the fact that it doesn’t require a lot of skill in order to enjoy it, that you can play it with a drink in one hand, and that it’s fun for all ages. He’s quick to note that the original Urge isn’t a family restaurant, but it isn’t exactly not not a family restaurant either. Kids are certainly welcome, and that’s a theme that will carry over to the new place. Plus, he’s a huge fan of The Big Lebowski. Currently, Urge: Craft Alley is expected to roll into Vista around the first quarter of 2014.