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BURBANK : Microbrewery Wins Spring Opening OK

October 27, 1994|STEVE RYFLE

The San Fernando Valley, long the home of an Anheuser-Busch brewery, is about to be home to another commercial brewery.

But it's doubtful anyone at the huge Anheuser-Busch facility is getting nervous. The Burbank Brew Pub, set to open next spring, will be a microbrewery, the first of its kind in the Valley.

Following a trend that began in the Pacific Northwest, the microbrewery will offer a variety of beers and ales brewed on the premises.

The pub, to be located in the city's downtown redevelopment area in a now-vacant building at 159 E. Angeleno Ave., easily won approval to open from Burbank's planning board. Unlike the Australian Beach Club--a bar that opened near that site earlier this year after much debate--no objections were raised to the pub, city officials said.

"This is a family restaurant, it's not a bar, and it's quite on the upscale order," said Gary Yamada, the city's zoning administrator. "It just so happens that they brew beer on the premises."

The microbrewery will be owned and operated by California Fast Foods, a Glendale company that owns seven restaurants, including five in Glendale. The company plans to spend $750,000 on the project, with $250,000 budgeted for the brewing equipment.

The workings of the brewery will be visible from the street through the restaurant's front windows.

Frank Bagheri, marketing director for the restaurant firm, said the company believes microbreweries may catch on in California, much the way gourmet coffee outlets have in recent years. There are already two successful microbreweries in nearby Pasadena, he said.

"It's a new venture for us, and like any new business there is a risk, but we feel we can do a pretty good job at it and be successful," Bagheri said. The company is now searching for a brew master who will supervise the beer-making process. Bagheri said the brew pub will typically offer about four different beers at any given time. The brews will change periodically, with stouter, richer varieties offered during the winter and lighter beers during the summer.

"It's a lot like cooking or baking, where you rely on the creativity of your chef. The brew master will have different recipes for different beers that are his or her specialty," he said.

The microbrewery has applied to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for a small brewer's license, which allows for the production of up to 15,000 31-gallon barrels of beer per year. But the restaurant's owners anticipate making about 1,200-1,500 barrels per year, said Anita Williams, a private planning consultant who worked on the project.

The restaurant will also be allowed to sell its beer in containers ranging from a half-gallon to 15 gallons for parties and other functions.

Williams said the restaurant expects to have 40 employees, and to ring up sales of beer, food and merchandise of $1.75 million in its first year, climbing to $2.4 million within three years.

If those figures prove to be accurate, the city would earn about $144,000 in sales tax revenue from the pub the first year.

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