South Gate Brewing Company broke ground last week on construction that will effectively double the size of both its kitchen and dining areas, which is sure to delight customers of the often-packed Oakhurst eatery and micro-brewery.
When completed as scheduled by mid to late July, owner Casey Hawkins said South Gate will add full-service dining as well as an expanded menu, with more vegan and vegetarian options, alongside its many in-house craft beers.
He said he was excited with the expansion, particularly how it took less than three years to accomplish since opening in May of 2013.
“I’m definitely excited and grateful,” Hawkins said. “Did I expect that we would be as busy as we are? I’d hate to say that I didn’t. But it came as a pleasant surprise at how quickly we’ve been able to grow.”
Hawkins said when finished, hosts or hostesses will greet customers at the gastropub’s new entrance with large, open windows, and direct them either to casual dining, as is the current experience, or to a full-service, 48-seat room to be attended by waiters and waitresses.
“Our diners will have the opportunity to pick one or the other,” Hawkins said. “We’ll have both worlds, and say, if the full-service area is full, they can come wait in the casual room and enjoy a beer and appetizer until a spot opens up, if they’d like.”
The tasting area, with full open windows to the actual brewhouse so guests can view the beer being made, will remain the same, Hawkins said. Brewmaster Rick Bouke said he’s also working to add another fermentation tank to the brewhouse, which could allow for additional varieties of beer.
“That will bring the brewhouse section of the building to its maximum capacity,” Bouke said. “Looking to the future, I’m already focused on the next exciting project.”
Among the menu changes, led by recently-hired head chef Bethany Briggs, trained at Le Cordon Blue, will be in-house smoked salmon among much more.
Briggs said she was excited that a new smoker is being installed in the larger kitchen, as well as South Gate’s plans to add catering services.
“I’m excited to see what kind of food my team and I can accomplish out of our new kitchen,” Briggs said. “I know we’re going to wow people with what we can do.”
Hawkins said the reason for South Gate’s success, including its menu comprised almost entirely of seasonal, local ingredients, is due to the community’s support and the work of his staff.
“The whole reason we’re here is because of our loyal customers and our amazing community, that understands supporting a small, family-run business, and how we all have to contribute and support all the small businesses in town,” Hawkins said. “This community has done that tenfold. And with our staff, if you talk about exceeding expectations, my staff has exceeded expectations more than anything else. I had no idea I would find a group of individuals that could come together and create an atmosphere that’s fun to work in, and one that’s both passionate and professional as well.”
Brewery coordinator Max Stauffer agreed, and said it’s rewarding to see the construction underway after months of planning.
“There are no limits to the growth of South Gate Brewing Company, and I’m already looking forward to the next step,” Stauffer said.
Hawkins hired many Mountain Area companies for the construction project, including general contractor Troy Hood, Jim Allen Plumbing & Drain, Andrew’s Electric, Mountain Aire Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., and California Paving Company.
South Gate Brewing Company serves everything from high-quality salads to hamburgers and desserts, as well as a rotating menu of beers ranging from the popular Sawtooth IPA to award-winning brews like Oaktown Brown, or a refreshing Honey Badger Wheat.
The restaurant and brewery, located at 40233 Enterprise Drive in Oakhurst, will not be affected as construction takes place, Hawkins said.
Details: (559) 692-BREW (2739), southgatebrewco.com.