The new Pacific Brew Haus doesn’t brew beer at its 220 S. First St. premises, but with 18 choices of beer on draft the Irish pub and sports bar is the next best thing, according to patrons.
“The town has been starving for a place like this,” said Rhonda Adams, who stopped by Feb. 22, the second day the new pub was open.
Sitting at a high table opposite the bar with friends Kathleen Gabbert and Gene Dorenkamp, Adams said the background hum of friendly conversation was a sure-fire giveaway that patrons were running into people they knew.
“This is the new gathering place,” Adams said.
Even though the city was slammed by the biggest winter storm of the season, owners of the new Brew Haus decided to open as planned Thursday, Feb. 21.
Server Sheri Mott said she was stunned by the first-day crowd.
“I walked out to the sidewalk and there was a row of four-wheel-drive pickup trucks lining the complete block of the Orleans Street side of the building,” Mott said. “The snowstorm didn’t keep people away.”
The same was true Friday, Feb. 22, when the new kitchen installed by owners Steve LaFrance and Luke Fagan operated at full speed. Mott and eight other servers carried trays laden with sandwiches made with thick toast, appetizers, full meals, burgers, chicken wings and pizza.
The mixed crowd included couples, groups and families with children from infants to teens.
At one end of the dining section, a couple and five youngsters sat at two tables pushed together. One preteen boy plunked down in a deep leather chair in front of the faux fireplace tucked into the alcove where musicians formerly played and looked at the largest of the establishment’s 10 large screen TVs.
Renovations have been under way for months on the historic building that was constructed with dismantled St. Louis World’s Fair materials. The refurbished third floor opera house, which is now available for party rental, recently opened.
The 105-year-old structure features vintage metal ceilings, stained wood and now 18 choices of draft beer. Framed photos of historic Pacific line the walls.
Seasoned restaurateurs LaFrance and Fagan added a kitchen to the first floor restaurant space to create the items on a lively pub menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, appetizers, entrees, homemade cobbler, pizza and chicken wings.
Mott, a Pacific resident with a history of working as a server in St. Louis area high-traffic restaurants, said the Brew Haus rivals the best establishments as a place to work.
“When I saw the construction, I didn’t know what was coming in the building,” Mott said. “I just took a chance and stopped in. I used to serve Steve’s parents at another restaurant, he recognized me and said, ‘If you’re looking for a job, I’d like for you to train my servers.’ ”
On the second day of business, and the first Friday evening, nine waitresses clad in jeans and black T-shirts, threaded their way among tables, which were all filled.
The glossy menu, which is printed on two sides of ledger-sized card stock, is a surprisingly familiar and reasonably priced collection of bistro food.
The new pub has retained one element of the former coffeehouse, it feels like an old-fashioned bar where everybody knows your name.
The Pacific Brew Haus is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.