Up Close with Bread & Barleyin Restaurant / Bar
The usually boisterous and energetic taproom at Bread & Barley in Covina, CA lay quiet in anticipation this morning as the BierBuzz team approached the gastropub’s storefront for an exclusive interview.
We wanted to get an inside look at the thought process behind creating a popular gastropub in a location that wasn’t really known for having good brews and good eats under the same roof.
Victor Linares, co-owner of Bread & Barley, greeted us at the door. A young man stylishly dressed with a button up paired with some Converse sneakers, you can sense his charisma based on the way he talks and interacts with people. Once he’s ready to sit down and begin the interview, he takes off his button-up, proudly displaying a Bread & Barley t-shirt underneath.
When asked about why he chose to create Bread & Barley, Victor stated that, “We started Bread & Barley out of a necessity for a craft beer bar in Covina.” While Bread & Barley started off as just an idea, it quickly became a possibility when Victor’s business partner and co-owner Carlos Roman came into the picture. Carlos has previous experience in the restaurant business sector, which lead to the two of them brainstorming on how to make Victor’s vision a reality. After enough planning and discussion, they decided to take the plunge and give the gastropub a try. “We just crossed our fingers and threw a Hail Mary.” Fast forward to October 26th of 2013, and there was a line wrapped around the block with smiling faces and craft beer enthusiasts eagerly anticipating Bread & Barley’s .
Now that Bread & Barley was up and running, the next challenge for any new business is to keep people interested and coming back for more. One of the ways Bread & Barley accomplishes this is by having a dynamic beer selection. Victor directed us to his Beer Curator Travis Johnston to get some answers on why and how he selects the beers he does for Bread & Barley.
“We go through research on deciding what’s hot, what’s selling really well, and what beers are gonna truly move and make a buzz about Bread & Barley.”
Once these beers are decided on, Bread & Barley has 21 beers tapped up front, while having 20-25 beers on the back-burner. This way, adjustments to the lineup can seamlessly change if need be. Since they carry many top quality beers, it isn't odd for the tap list to have a slight change every other day as many of these delicious beers are eventually tapped out--perfect for people that go in multiple times a week. My favorite out of the bunch was the Stone Enjoy By IPA 7-04-15 and its delightful hoppy freshness. It's even better on tap if you can believe it.
Travis also mentions carrying some of the harder to find beers for those who enjoy beer hunting.
“We try and get as many limited editions as we can. These one-off specialty beers take a lot of time to make with the barrel aging process or through souring the beer . . . We usually have one to two variations of a specialty beer a week.”
Lastly, Bread & Barley also participates in tap takeovers where one brewery and their many different offerings are highlighted for the night. These events happen one or two times a month, and they make an effort to sponsor both local breweries, and breweries as far away as the east coast.
Speaking of local breweries, during the interview Gabe Wiens from Wiens Brewing stopped by and mentioned that Bread & Barley will be receiving three of their beers in July consisting of: Insomnia IPA, Honey Wheat, and a special entry with their Imperial Red, which is a barrel aged red ale with flavor notes of bourbon/oak and hints of cherry.
As great as the beer is at Bread & Barley, people are also in love with the food. We got a chance to talk to Aldon, one of the young chefs responsible for creating the food.
He has been to culinary school and has spent most of his summers inside of a kitchen instead of partying it up like most 20 year olds. He tells us this with pride, as he talks about how much he enjoys working with all the cool people at Bread & Barley. When asking about the types of food selections made in the kitchen at Bread & Barley, he had this to say, “Since we are a gastropub, I’m trying to do more of a gastro-end on everything. Stuff that you normally wouldn’t think of eating together as a pair.”
While some of the more tame examples of this ideology are present in their offering of filet mignon tacos, one of his ideas that is still in the works consists of a fried chicken sandwich with watermelon rind, maple syrup aioli, and Cholula aioli all on a Belgian waffle. Doesn’t that sound intriguing?
The four dishes we got to try were the fish and chips, carne asada fries, mac & cheese w/ brussel sprouts, and their signature Bread & Barley burger made with house-made mustard aioli, caramelized onions, arugula, and gruyere cheese. While I could go at length describing each delicious entree, I will say that my favorite part out of the entire presentation were the sweet potato tater tots that came with Bread & Barley burger. Absolutely delicious.
Bread & Barley is successfully approaching two years of service which quite frankly, is no surprise. The care and quality they take with their beer and food selection process is also demonstrated in their social event planning. They have cultivated a community that not only drinks together, but gathers for live music, trivia night, sporting events, and charitable causes. Victor did not go into any details yet, but he is planning to involve Bottle Logic to some degree for their 2nd Anniversary celebration.
Make sure to keep an eye out for our Bread & Barley video clips later this month to learn exclusive information about their future beer plans that you won’t hear anywhere else!