Last August, the East Village’s Monkey Paw Pub and Brewery shuttered after seven years operating as an award-winning, cult-favorite member of San Diego’s brewing community. The closure came roughly a year after the venue was acquired by Coronado Brewing Company. Since then, local beer fans have wondered what would become of the former brewpub on the corner of 16th and F Streets. The answer will come in the form of Bottle Rocket Bar and Grill, which will debut to the public next week.
Independently owned and operated by a group with ties to Mission Hills’ The Regal Beagle, Encinitas’ The Regal Seagull and Bay Park’s Sidecar, Bottle Rocket brings a lighter, more colorful mood and aesthetic to a previously shadow-draped downtown haunt. It was a conscious reinvention by owner Matt Guilbert and his team.
“With the conversion, we tried—and succeeded—in really brightening the place up,” says Guilbert, who appreciates the history of his new spot, but is looking to open things up from more than just an interior-design aspect. “We are looking to appeal to a broad customer base as a neighborhood bar and grill versus just trying to capitalize on the craft-brew-specific folks.”
Though purchased with a brewery and cellar in its back space, Guilbert and company quickly determined the logistics of operating a fermentation operation were unworkable. They are in the process of getting the portion of the building that was devoted to manufacturing permitted so that it may be used as a game room.
When asked how lessons learned operating his existing bar-eateries will enhance the experience at his upcoming business, Guibert replies, “I think the one thing that is so commonly overlooked in this industry these days is service. We are hyper-sensitive to this. It’s great to have amazing beer lists, killer food and fresh, quality cocktails, but if you don’t embrace the most important thing, then you are not understanding the service industry.”
Bottle Rocket is located at 805 16th Street and expects to begin its “soft-opening week” on Monday, November 25. Once open, its hours of operation will be Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight (opening at 10 a.m. on Sundays during football season) and Friday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.