On Saturday, for the first time in two months, patrons will be able to raise their glasses, knives and forks inside Washington Brewing Co.
The restaurant/brewery, at 28 E. Maiden St. in the city, will reopen at 11 a.m. with a new general manager, a new kitchen manager, a new line of beers and a new Bubba.
“Everyone is super excited,” Angela Burgess said. She and her husband, John, own the brewery and Washington Winery next door.
Angela said in an interview Monday that the brewery’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, but is uncertain after that – other than “we will open at 11 six or seven days a week.”
The Burgesses shut down the brewery and restaurant March 30, but continued to supply beer to restaurants and bars through their distributor, Beverage Distribution Inc. John is the sole brewer at the facility.
Angela did not get into particulars on the closing, but a post on the firm’s Facebook page April 2 said, in part: “We have experienced several unforeseen circumstances in the past 6 months and need to reorganize in order to provide you with the best experience possible at our brewery. ... Our goal is to reopen as quickly as possible.”
Two months later, Washington Brewing is poised to roll out the barrel. The Burgesses, she said, strive to run it as “a full gastropub restaurant.” Burgers will be a meaty part of the menu, but the couple intend to have diverse selections of food and beer.
Rob Smith has joined them as general manager and Nick Caldwell as kitchen manager. The two were part of a team at Bubba’s Gourmet Burghers and Beer in The Highlands complex in Triadelphia, W.Va. Smith, the restaurateur the Burgesses had been seeking the past two months, is working at both venues, while Caldwell is strictly in Washington.
“I’ve worked in a kitchen my whole life,” Caldwell said with a smile. He said the cuisine “will have more a mixture. We’re going to experiment with different styles.”
Angela Burgess said this menu will be different, and will evolve to a point. “But it will be delicious and fun.”
Bubba’s will be part of the equation. The host of the Bubba Show on 100.7-FM – recognized only as Bubba – is owner of the gourmet burger chain with locations in Southpointe, South Fayette Township and The Highlands. (The South Fayette site is going to close.)
He is bringing his burgers – make that burghers – to Washington Brewing and introducing a line of beers called Bubba Brews. “Our line will be brewed here along with (the brewery’s own) amazing line,” Bubba said by phone Monday.
John Burgess also has a new brew in store. It’s a hazy IPA categorized as a Strawberry Milkshake IPA called “For Goodness Shake, John!”
Smith said the Bubba Burghers are a blend of four meats: ribeye, sirloin, New York strip and beef brisket. “You’re pretty much getting a steak burger,” he added.
Bubba has a burger pedigree, to be sure. His father was a butcher from the Greenfield section of Pittsburgh. Bubba also has Washington roots – his mother is a Wash High graduate and, as a youth, he spent a lot of days and weekends at his grandparents’ home in the Washington County seat.
Amid the changes is a popular constant: the Burgesses decided that dogs will continue to have their day once a month. Barks and Brews events will continue every third Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., starting June 15.
Washington Brewing’s second anniversary will be Sept. 8, and Angela said a celebration is planned. It hasn’t been an easy two years, but the owners are eager to get going.
“The shutdown is not something we wanted,” she said, “but we feel the reopening will be good for the brewery and good for Washington.”