Earlier this month, Grain and Grit Collective (GGC) announced that it will team with locally-based culinary celebrity Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien to install a bar and eatery in the Little Italy Food Hall. Scheduled to open in 2020 at 555 West Date Street, across from the community’s original food hall—home of GGC and Zien’s inaugural collaborative effort, Not Not Tacos—the venue will go by the name Graze and come equipped with a bottle shop offering local craft beers. Having such a popular San Diegan embrace one of his hometown’s foremost exports is a big deal, so we got in touch with The Cooking Guy to ask him about his new spot and a certain family member who was influential in driving his appreciation of craft beer.
What inspired you to make craft beer a focal point at Graze?
Craft beer is a no-brainer in San Diego. It’s the best, and the fact that San Diego has so many award-winning breweries speaks for itself. Craft beer feels like the perfect addition in this busy area for those that want to grab a quick drink to enjoy at home.
What can we expect from Graze’s bottle shop?
The bottle shop will take up a portion of the 1,646-square-foot space. The layout will be a combination of a cozy bar and lounge area with the bottle shop in the back. We will be offering a carefully thought-out variety of mostly local beer for every palate. We will also be featuring special and seasonal releases and have natural wines to-go. We want to make sure there is something for everyone!
What will Graze’s menu consist of?
It is still a work in-progress, but our menu will feature flatbreads, salads, sandwiches and eclectic shareables. We did our first tasting the other day and one of our favorites was an Asian soba salad that will pair well with AleSmith Brewing’s San Diego Pale Ale .394.
AleSmith, you say. You have a connection there, don’t you?
My cousin, Peter Zien, is the owner of AleSmith, so of course I like everything from there. Peter’s love of beer has definitely got me more excited about the beer world. I do not come from a beer background, and his passion has made me more knowledgeable about beer. We hope Graze creates more opportunities for some fun collaborations!
So, will we find beer in your fridge at home? If so, what types?
Of course you’ll find craft beer at my house. This is San Diego…it is almost unpatriotic to not enjoy craft beer here. I am not a real hoppy guy, but I do like stouts or other dark beers. I look at drinking certain types of beer like I do with red or white wines. Anything can and should go as long as you like it. There are no wrong answers!