From today’s (S.F. peninsula) Daily News, a story by staffer Bonnie Eslinger (“State pulls liquor license of ‘gastropub’: Move comes after police contacted alcohol bureau over series of alleged crimes at British Bankers Club”) about the (probably temporary) closing of the British Bankers Club in Menlo Park CA:

Housed inside a 90-year-old building that stands prominently at the intersection of Santa Cruz Avenue and El Camino Real, the British Bankers Club billed itself as a “gastropub,” offering a menu that included such items as ahi tartare and a foie gras burger. Only fresh, organic ingredients were used in its cocktails, according to information posted on the club’s website.

Some information about BBC, then about gastropub (and brewpub).

The building’s exterior:

From BBC’s website:

The building [built in 1922] had been a bar since the early 1970s, but before that it had been city hall, a library, and even served briefly as a jail since being built in 1922.

[It was extensively renovated in 1973 and then again three years ago. In addition to the food, there are the furnishings, including a mahogany back bar, a Tiffany stained glass window and other stained glass, and art glass lamps. Plus:]

The largest chandelier in the BBC is solid bronze and weighs over 1600 pounds. It hails from the Philadelphia Opera House.

The handsome pair of bronze lighting fixtures outside the main entrance were originally from the 10th Street Post Office in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the two bronze wall fixtures at the northeast plaza entrance came from a St. Louis bank building.

The upstairs bar came from the White Horse Inn in Devonshire, England.

(Yelp lists three gastropubs close to Menlo Park — BBC in Menlo Park, Martins West Gastropub in Redwood City, Bair Island Tap & Eatery in San Carlos — and many more in the Bay Area generally.)

The Wikipedia entry for gastropub tells us:

Gastropub or Gastrolounge refers to a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food.

The term gastropub, a portmanteau of gastronomy and pub, originated in England in the late 20th century. English pubs were drinking establishments and little emphasis was placed on the serving of food. If pubs served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a ploughman’s lunch. In South East England (especially London) it was common until recent times for vendors selling cockles, whelks, mussels and other shellfish, to sell to customers during the evening and at closing time. Many mobile shellfish stalls would set up near pubs, a practice that continues in London’s East End.

“Pub grub” expanded to include British food items such as steak and ale pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Sunday roast, ploughman’s lunch, and pasties. In addition, dishes such as burgers, frites, lasagne and chilli con carne are often served.

The term “gastropub” was coined in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London. The concept of a restaurant in a pub reinvigorated both pub culture and British dining, though it has occasionally attracted criticism for potentially removing the character of traditional pubs.

The gastropub phenomenon took off in the United States in the 2000s at gastropubs such as restaurateur and chef Sang Yoon’s Father’s Office which had what Esquire magazine called one of the best burgers in the world, Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, a gastropub run by actor Harrison Ford’s son Ben Ford, Brickyard  [and] The Spotted Pig in Manhattan, and The Wobbly Olive in Long Island, NY.

OED3 (June 2005) labels gastropub British, defines it as ‘a public house which specializes in serving high-quality food’, and has a first cite in 1996. In any case, the word seems to be only about 20 years old.

Only a bit older is the term brewpub, which is probably to be treated as a portmanteau as well (brewery + pub). From Wikipedia under microbrewery:

A microbrewery or craft brewer is a brewery which produces a limited amount of beer, and is associated by consumers with innovation and uniqueness.

… A “brewpub” brews and sells beer on the premises.

… The term “microbrewery” originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s to describe the new generation of small breweries which focused on producing traditional cask ale. The first successful example of this approach was Litchborough Brewery founded by Bill Urquhart in 1975 in the Northamptonshire village of the same name.

… A brewpub is a pub or restaurant that brews beer on the premises. Some brewpubs, such as those in Germany, have been brewing traditionally on the premises for hundreds of years. Others are modern restaurants.

The establishments have been around for a very long time, but the word brewpub is pretty new. OED3 (Dec. 2003) has it as originally and chiefly North American, with the definition:

A public house, often including a restaurant, selling beer that has been brewed on the premises. Cf. microbrewery n.

and a first cite from 1985. But just as gastropub has spread from British to American English, so brewpub has spread in the opposite direction.

Meanwhile, there are establishments that combine the gastropub and the brew pub: brewery restaurants, like my local Gordon Biersch in Palo Alto, which are both restaurants and (micro)breweries. Brewery restaurant is a copulative compound (denoting something that is both a brewery and a restaurant) — and, as you might have predicted, the compound has been compacted into the portmanteau brewstaurant. From an on-line review:

Hops is an above average American brewstaurant chain with two locations in central CT (Berlin Tpk. too). They don’t have too much variety in their beers but the brew is consistent and flavorful enough. I like their Clearwater Light and various Reds (I think I’ve had three different ones now). The food is very good for the price and the steak values during the Brewmaster specials are great.

And now, off to lunch.

5 Responses to “gastropub”

  1. Martyn Cornell Says:

    Of course, the original “brewery restaurant” was the brasserie, though that seems to have lost its “brewing” connotations when it entered English from French.

  2. Victor Steinbok Says:

    1985 is most certainly late for “brewpub” as brewpubs were legalized in California in 1983, the first one–in California–being Hopland Brewery. But brewpubs in Colorado predate California. One thing that did happen in 1985 is a court decision that determined “brewpub” to be generic for trademarking purposes. They also seem to have hit the East Coast in 1985-6. Plenty of “brewpubs” existed before the Prohibition, but it’s highly unlikely that any of them had been referred to in this manner.

    OED decidedly disagrees with Wiki that “microbrewery” is originally a UK term. It marks as “Chiefly North American” and all the citations, save for the Economist, are from US publications (from 1982). If indeed the term originated in the UK in the 1970, it needs to be uncovered. I appear to have uncovered one such publication: Industrial Research in Britain, 1976. [I am quite certain that the volume is, at the latest, for 1976.]

    Several other publications appear to antedate the OED entry (from 1979 to 1981). But this is not to say that the origin can be placed squarely in the UK. Peterson’s 1975 Annual Guide to Graduate Study mentions a “recently installed microbrewery” at one of the reviewed programs. And Peterson’s is most certainly a US publication.

    1996 also sound fairly late for “gastropub”. If indeed the first gastropub was created in 1996, the conversion of the British pubs into gastropubs was rather rapid, as the next year the 1998 Good Food Guide already talked about “another graduate from the bare-boarded school of gastropub conversions”. One year would not be sufficient to create “a school”. Similarly, a travel guide in 1997 French magazine also mentions “un vrai ‘gastropub'” [at Anglesea Arms]–something highly unlikely only within a year of coinage.

  3. dw Says:

    I would never describe the the British Banker’s Club as a gastropub. The food is nasty and the street outside smells of vomit every Thursday night. Can’t say I’m surprised it got closed.

  4. Pairmanteaus « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] telescoping of Hebrew hipster or a coordination of Hebrew and hipster; similarly for brewstaurant (here), which could be a telescoping of the copulative compound brewery restaurant or an independent […]

  5. Some things that caught my eye on Santa Cruz Ave. « Burb Urb Says:

    […] British Banker’s Club space, across a courtyard from Kepler’s is considerably more classically decadent than this picture lets on, but sadly, I wasn’t able to drop in for a better look. The […]

Leave a Reply