Riding a growing wave of demand for craft beer and plant-based dining, the Artisanal Brewers Collective, or ABC, in March is scheduled to open its 11th pub in Los Angeles with more plans for growth.
Bluebird will be a Belgian-inspired pub in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, with a menu built around mussels and steak with fries.
But, like most of ABC’s locations, about half of the menu at Bluebird will be devoted to vegan and vegetarian options to accompany the Belgian-inspired beers brewed in house.
“It’s a big part of our philosophy,” said Tony Yanow, co-founder of the collective, which since 2015 has been acquiring and rebranding bars in LA to build the group, as well as creating new concepts like Bluebird.
Among them is Beelman’s — which has an entirely vegan menu. Others have a heavy emphasis on plant-based food, including The Stalking Horse, The Bell Marker, Brennan’s, Sixth St. Tavern, Spring St Bar & Sandwich Shoppe, Library Bar, Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend. One concept, Old Chalet, is a bar that doesn’t have a food menu.
Each of the pubs has its own style. The Stalking Horse is an English-style pub, for example, while Tony’s Darts Away only serves beers brewed in California.
As someone who does not eat meat or dairy, Yanow said, “I want to give people options. We’re not trying to be the food police or to tell people what to eat. But in Southern California, pretty much everyone has a vegan or vegetarian friend or family member. Our philosophy is that we want to feed everyone.”
At the 140-seat Bluebird, for example, there will be a seitan “steak frites” option, as well as a mashed potato and roasted vegetable dish called Stoemp that can be served with vegan meatballs.
Travis Faris, the group’s culinary director, has created a merguez-style sausage using the plant-based Impossible meat. But he said he won’t attempt “vegan mussels.”
The price point at Bluebird will range from about $8 to $22 with most items in the $13 to $18 range, so the average check per person with beer will be around $35, Faris said.
For meat and plant eaters alike, Yanow sees common ground in beer.
He co-founded and built the Golden Road Brewing Company in Los Angeles, a craft beer brand that was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2015.
Yanow said he had long dreamed of opening a pub where people of all kinds could gather and families would be welcome, and where the beer would be made locally and served fresh.
“I wanted to have the fewest steps between making and serving the beer,” he said. “When people come to a pub and drink very fresh beer that’s brewed right there, it’s a much better experience.”
ABC has brought in three local brewers to create the beer menus at certain locations. At Bluebird, for example, Noah Regnery, who started brewing at the famed craft-beer brewpub Pizza Port in San Diego and brewed most recently at ABC’s The Bell Marker, will make the Belgian-inspired beers.
Yanow is planning on adding more gastropubs to Southern California, though he said he can’t reveal what’s next just yet.
He personally owns Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend, and he is a partner in the collective that manages the other eight, including Bluebird.
San Diego has long been established as the craft-beer epicenter of California, but Yanow sees a world of opportunity in the Los Angeles area.
“The truth is, there’s such great beer in California, but there’s also a lot of no-so-great-beer. We have a fairly new industry, but it has really exploded in the past 10 years,” he said. “We want to proliferate the pub experience.”
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