Like so many North Park business owners, Steve and Patricia Billings harbor a heartfelt affection for the community. Not only have they operated the neighborhood’s U31 Bar for the past 11-plus years, they have lived in North Park for a decade. So, when the beer-loving publicans decided to get into the brewing business, they could think of no better place than their own backyard. Come March, they expect to open that interest, The Original 40, in a nearly 80-year-old building across the street from U31. It’s named for the 40-acres of land purchased in 1893 by James Monroe Hartley that is now North Park.
“We feel we have a good understanding of the neighborhood and the customer base,” says Steve. “When the space became available, we knew it was the perfect location for us. We live five blocks away and our existing business is across the street. You can’t beat the commute. It’s a five-minute walk or a two-minute Bird scooter ride.”
Located at 3117 University Avenue, the 4,000-square-foot brewpub is a work-in-progress. Construction is on-schedule for completion in mid-February. In the meantime, the Billings have been busy moving in a 15-barrel Premier Stainless brewhouse and cellar equipment (two 30-barrel and three 15-barrel fermenters along with four 15-barrel bright tanks), and interviewing head-brewer candidates. Earlier this week, Chris Gillogly was selected for that position. Gillogly has worked for Pizza Port, Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, and most recently Groundswell Brewing, where his beers earned the Santee operation two medals at last year’s Great American Beer Festival shortly after his time there came to an end.
“We plan to do a mix of beer styles across the board. No style will be off-limits,” says Steve. “While we will cater to our core local tastes, we look forward to trying new styles, ingredients, and techniques. We have a state-of-the-art water filtration system that will allow us to create any water profile we need with minimal effort. We will also collaborate with local breweries as well as out-of-town friends on a regular basis.”
Additionally, Gillogly will work closely with kitchen staff to create one-off beers utilizing interesting ingredients and beers that pair well with The Original 40’s menu. The Billings are currently interviewing head chef candidates.
As for as décor goes, adjectives like light, fresh, and comfortable best explain it. The Billings say they want to add some modern touches to their vintage digs in the spirit of enhancement.