Artist's rendering of the planned Urge Gastropub & Common House, due in 2017
  • Artist's rendering of the planned Urge Gastropub & Common House, due in 2017
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The team behind Rancho Bernardo's Urge Gastropub is getting their bowling alley after all.

The Reader first announced the plan to turn a Vista fitness center into a combined brewpub and bowling alley two years ago. Due to leasing issues, Urge partners Nate Higson, Zak Higson, and Grant Tondro gave up on that location in 2015 and turned their attention to a property in South Oceanside. That's where they launched a second Urge restaurant earlier this year, complete with an in-house, ten-barrel brewery, Mason Ale Works. But no bowling alley.

URGE American Gastropub

16761 Bernardo Center Drive, Rancho Bernardo

"We chased that dream for two years, then everything fell apart at the end," recalls Tondro. However, he adds, in almost no time at all, someone else picked up the thread. "This developer came out of nowhere and said, 'We love this idea, how can we do this in my development in San Marcos?'"

That would be North City, the ambitious mixed-use development being built on 200 acres adjacent to the campus of Cal State San Marcos. Tondro and the Higsons have been quietly planning the project for a year and a half and construction is underway.

The 21,000-square-foot Urge Gastropub & Common House will feature a restaurant, brewery, and eight-lane bowling alley. Plans include decorative nods to '90s cult comedy The Big Lebowski, including a bowling-alley bar that will serve 15 variations on the Dude's favorite drink, the white Russian. The lanes themselves will be stained to resemble dark walnut rather than the standard light ash, and the balls will be colored to resemble numbered billiard balls — both solids and stripes.

While the Brunswick-built lanes will be tournament-certified, Tondro doesn't expect hardcore bowlers to be the alley's primary customer base. "There's already a bowling alley in San Marcos, AMF Eagle Lanes," he points out. "The way we look at it, we're going for two very different customers." Visitors to Urge, for example, will be food and beer fans wishing to add bowling to their itinerary.

The brewhouse in San Marcos will also carry the Mason Ale Works name, though it will feature a larger, 15-barrel system and increased fermentation capacity.

Speaking from the Oceanside brewpub, Tondro explains, "That will become our production brewery, and this place will do the R&D, one-off stuff. So, if we have something that's just a home run here, we can scale it up and brew it on that system."

Head brewer Mike Rodriguez will remain in Oceanside producing R&D beers, and Mason will hire a new director of brewing operations to oversee the new production facility. Once that brewery is up and running, Tondro anticipates increased distribution, including the release of core beers in cans and barrel-aged beers in bottles — potentially under the name Mason Snail Works.

Urge Gastropub & Common House is expected to open in March 2017.

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