“We are really 50-50,” said Pacific Beach AleHouse general manager Johnny Leal. “We do focus on food. That’s a big part of what we do. It is brewery food, burgers, tacos, and flatbreads – correlating to what a brewery is doing.”
Leal said AleHouse’s menu succeeds because it takes its food seriously. “We hire chefs, we don’t hire kitchen managers,” he said. “The menu we have, changes up seasonally. We make everything here except our bread. Everything’s fresh. We get produce dropped off seven days a week.”
Eric Leitstein is founder/CEO of OMG Hospitality Group, which includes PB AleHouse and Backyard Kitchen & Tap. He previously operated now-defunct ‘Canes in Belmont Park.
Did the restaurateur ever doubt, when he purchased the restaurant site at 721 Grand Ave. from Harry Taylor a decade ago, that it would be successful?
“Not at all,” Leitstein answered. “I never doubted, with our team, that we would still be here in 10 years.”
Leitstein’s optimism stems in part from his passion for the food-bar business. “I love Pacific Beach and the evolution of its restaurants and bars,” he said, adding he only invests in businesses “that fit in with the community.”
Leitstein praised the PB community for “embracing the Alehouse, [once] the only brewery down at the beach.”
Leal said the restaurant’s clientele is “different by the day, different by the time of day,” including everyone from the “twenty-somethings” you’d expect at a beach bar to families.
“Our mentality is we are a family restaurant all the time,” Leal said. “At 10 p.m., we’re not. That’s when it turns into the nightlife. But we’re going to cater to families.”
Family is the word Leitstein uses to characterize PB AleHouse. Leal concurs, offering an example of how “family” helps one another out.
He spoke of one employee uncertain about their future who expressed interest in joining the military but kept putting it off. Leal himself finally took him around to military recruiting offices and the employee chose the Army. He said that employee later returned to thank him for “changing his life.”
Leitstein said the restaurant business in PB is changing for the better. “It used to be you couldn’t go out to eat at a really good restaurant or have a cocktail, but now you have lots of decent restaurants with great menus,” he said. “Now PB is not just a mecca for party revelers, but is a big part of the San Diego culinary scene.”
Good service, having a quality product and being friendly to people topped the list of Leal’s keys to restaurant success.
“I think a lot of people have gotten away from that over the years,” he concluded.
Pacific Beach Alehouse
What: 721 Grand Ave.
Hours: Mondays to Fridays 11 a.m.
to 2 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays
9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Hoppy hour: Mondays to Fridays 3 to 6 p.m.