Roger and Aaron Browning have teamed with longtime Flying Pig staffer Alex Kleinman on his new tap room/pub concept
For several years, Oceanside bartender Alex Kleinman kicked around the idea of opening his own tap room. That plan finally came to fruition last year when he and a partner came up with a proposal for a space in the Square at Bressi Ranch center in Carlsbad.
Then, unexpectedly, Kleinman’s partner pulled out of the deal and he needed to find new investors fast or he’d lose the space and have to start from scratch. Fortunately, he had some big guns waiting in the wings.
Roger “Roddy” Browning and his wife, Aaron Browning, own the long-successful Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen in Oceanside and the newly opened TownHall Public House in Vista. Roddy said Kleinman has been their “all-around everything guy” — bartender, manager, server, host — at Flying Pig for the past six years.
Intrigued by Kleinman’s proposal, the Brownings signed on as his business partners. Now the trio’s long-in-the-works project, Bantam’s Roost Public House, will open Monday, Oct. 14, in the Square at Bressi Ranch.
Bantam’s Roost is is a pub serving affordably priced beers on tap, wines by the glass, custom cocktails and a menu of appetizers, sides, salads, bowls, burgers, sandwiches and desserts with pretty much everything priced at $12 or less. The 2,175-square-foot restaurant has seating for 26 inside and 48 on the covered patio.
Bantam’s Roost is named after the chicken coop once owned by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt at the family estate in Hyde Park, N.Y. Aaron’s grandmother grew up near Hyde Park and often had tea at the Roosevelt home. When Mrs. Roosevelt decided to get rid of her coop, she offered it to Aaron’s grandmother, whose husband turned it into an art studio that he named “Bantam’s Roost.” A bantam is a small species of rooster.
Like the Brownings’ other restaurants, Bantam’s Roost is decorated with a mix of modern and rustic, farm-inspired decor. Contractor John Wright built the 14-seat bar with reclaimed wood from a circa 1920s barn in Missouri and created the beer tap system in a wall sink from a 1940s-era elementary-school bathroom from Wildomar. The framed antique photos of chickens on the walls were found by Aaron’s mother at a vintage flea market in Arizona and Roddy created indoor light fixtures from old incubator lamps used in chick hatcheries.
Besides his many years working as a bartender, Kleinman also worked locally as a beer distributor, so he is carefully cultivating the Roost’s 14-tap rotating beer program. The opening lineup includes some Flying Pig favorites, like North Coast Brewing’s Old Rasputin stout, and a mix of local and regional beers, including brews by Burgeon, Ogopogo, Topa Topa, Societé, Boss and Lost Abbey. Pours will range from $6 to $7.25. There are also 10 wines by the glass priced under $10; eight custom cocktails priced at $10.50 each; and 50 brands of whiskey. Over the time, the number of wines and whiskeys offered at the Roost will expand.
Consulting chef Mario Moser, who now runs the kitchen full time at TownHall Public House, developed the Southern-inspired Roost menu. Signature items include Mama Belle’s green chili pork stew, based on a recipe by Aaron’s mother, priced at $5.25; an Angus burger with fries or salad for $11.90; pulled pork and cornmeal fried chicken sandwiches, both with fries or salad, for $9.75 each; banana pudding and beignet desserts, for $8 each; and Southern sides like pecan-glazed sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens for $3.95 each. The highest-priced item, at $15.90, is the Angus beef steak bowl with brown rice, kale, Brussels sprouts and home fries.
Service will be a mix of walk-up counter and “continued” service, meaning customers initially place their order at the counter for food and drinks and receive a table number. Then, food runners with hand-held point-of-sale systems can take follow-up orders table-side for additional food and drinks.
Bantam’s Roost is the second restaurant the Brownings have opened in less than a month. In September, they re-branded their Flying Pig location in Vista as the TownHall Public House with a new look, more casual menu and lower prices. They hadn’t imagined that project would collide with the delayed opening of Bantam’s Roost, but Aaron said it was meant to be. Last month, chef Moser returned to the company after a year away in Colorado and his cooking finesse is what put Flying Pig on the map in 2011.
“The universe was aligned for all of this to happen right now, with Mario combing back in. It’s been a whole team effort to make this happen,” she said.
Bantam’s Roost Public House
Hours: Opening day is Oct. 14; 11 a.m. to close
Where: The Square at Bressi Ranch, 2628 Gateway Road, Suite 120, Carlsbad.