Ghost City Brewing takes over 4,505 burger and grill spots in Oakland

Ryan Nosek (left) and Sam Carr-Prindle, two of four co-founders of West Oaklands Ghost Town Brewing. The founders plan to open a second taproom in February in the former 4505 Burgers & BBQ in Oakland’s Laurel District. Photo: Cirrus Wood

At a time when many businesses are struggling, Ghost Town Brewing is expanding in West Oakland. Last month, the craft brewery signed a 10-year lease on the property at 3506 MacArthur Blvd. in the Laurel District of Oakland, where a taphouse and beer garden are due to open by the end of February. The property is the former location of Chef Ryan Farr’s Oakland outpost of 4505 Burgers & BBQ, who worked on site for a year before closing. Farr still owns the room.

“You were one of our customers,” said Ryan Nosek, co-owner and co-founder of Ghost Town Brewing, “and now they are our landlords.”

Farr closed 4505 in late July due to the loss of business during the pandemic, but had hoped to reopen the restaurant in the spring of 2021, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nosek isn’t sure why Farr decided not to reopen the space, but is excited about the opportunity to grow and expand his own business.

“We have always loved this room, thought it was cool and has a good beer garden atmosphere,” said Nosek. “And it’s completely outdoors, which is good for the pandemic, but also after the pandemic.”

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“It’s unfortunate that they had to close,” he said, “but at the same time this expansion is something we really don’t want to be without.”

A quiet start in West Oakland

Ghost Town Brewing started quietly as a side project for a group of bandmates. Then, in 2018, they opened their flagship brewery and taphouse on Adeline St. in West Oakland in 1960. The four co-founders – Nosek, Sam Carr-Prindle, Jason Gehman and Adam Hill – wanted to offer quality beers at reasonable prices. When they opened the taproom, they were determined to create some sort of meeting place that they and their neighbors could afford.

Ghost Town rates its beers based on brewing time and ABV content. The longer the brew time or the higher the ABV, the more a pint costs. Beer prices range from $ 3 scumbag cream ales on the low end (at just 4.6% ABV, these ales are “highly crushable,” Nosek said) to $ 7 sour beers, making them on the high end End takes longer.

Ryan Farr's Oakland outpost with 4505 Burgers & BBQ closed last July, only to reopen in spring 2021.  However, Farr decided to rent the space to Ghost Town instead.  Photo: Sarah HanChef Ryan Farr’s Oakland outpost with 4505 Burgers & BBQ was closed last July for loss of business during the pandemic. Farr, who still owns the building, has decided to rent the space to Ghost Town instead of reopening the BBQ area. Photo: Sarah Han

One reason Ghost Town can offer beer at such prices is because of the tight control over production and distribution. It brews everything itself and delivers everything itself, which is no small matter considering production has nearly doubled since Nosh first wrote about Ghost Town in 2018. Now it sells its beers as far as Windsor, Sonoma County, and south to San Jose and east to Sacramento. “Basically within a 50 mile radius of West Oakland,” said Nosek.

As with many companies, the coronavirus has forced Ghost Town to rethink how it works. While its Taphouse in West Oakland still has a brisk draft beer business from its Taphouse in West Oakland, in the early days of the pandemic, the ghost town revolved around offering more than 30 beers in cans. Readers can find Ghost Town Ales, IPAs, Sours, Porters, and Stouts in four-packs of 16-ounce cans in liquor stores, bottle stores, and grocery stores, including Whole Foods, and in both Berkeley Bowls. Or, they can always pick up take-away beer at Ghost Town’s Taphouse West Oakland.

In another piece of good news, Ghost Town did not have to lay off or take leave of any of its 20+ employees. Even when one of his employees tested positive for COVID-19 and forced a temporary shutdown last weekend.

On Jan. 8, Nosek confirmed that a sales rep had tested positive for COVID-19. Nosek closed the business for two days to clean and refurbish the facility and test other employees. At the time of writing, no other Ghost Town employees have tested positive. “Everyone else tested negative,” said Nosek. “So we’re back in business and he’s quarantined and fine.”

“It’s our first [case] Overall, we’ve been pretty lucky in the course of the pandemic, ”said Nosek. “We were lucky that the person concerned did not have much contact with the in-house brewing staff or played a customer-oriented role. So it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. “

In the early days of the pandemic, Ghost Town was all about offering more than 30 beers in cans.  Here is Ghost Town's Hazy IPA circle of life.  Photo: Ghost Town BrewingIn the early days of the pandemic, Ghost Town was all about offering more than 30 beers in cans. Here is Ghost Town’s Hazy IPA circle of life. Photo: Ghost Town Brewing

What to expect at the new Laurel location

Nosek had hoped to open the second location by California Craft Beer Week, February 12-21, but cannot guarantee the opening date. In any case, when the new location opens, it will only be for takeout orders anyway.

“We plan on getting all of our beers we have over here,” Nosek said in Growlers, Crowlers (32 ounce, single-use aluminum cans) and four packs. “We have every single beer we offer in cans.”

Ghost Town’s second location will have two major differences from its flagship West Oakland location. For one thing, it will be almost entirely outdoors. (“It should be beautiful out there in spring, summer, and fall,” said Nosek.) If al fresco dining with social distancing is allowed, the space could comfortably seat 40 people. And once widespread vaccination is achieved, maybe 100.

“We have to see how we feel when everything is set up,” said Nosek. “It’s more about comfort than stacking bodies.”

Another difference is that the MacArthur location has its own restaurant. The taproom in West Oakland does not have its own kitchen but is home to a number of food trucks such as Taco Panzon from Oakland and Mesquite & Oak from San Jose. In the ghost town, guests can also bring their own food. “But we saw how important it is to have food there,” said Nosek. “So the new taproom will have a full restaurant on-site.”

Exactly what the restaurant will look like – staff, style, menu – is still being worked out, but it will be owned and operated by Ghost Town, “and hopefully goes well with beer,” said Nosek. Guests have a wide variety of beers as Ghost Town installs 32 design lines.

Nosek is excited about the opportunity to open in the Laurel district, an area he describes as “underserved from a craft beer perspective”. When it opens, Ghost Town will join another store focused on craft beers – Degrees Plato Taproom and Bottle Shop.

“[As a brewer] You could advocate moving to a highly saturated area like Jack London or Temescal, ”he said. Being in a place like this could mean a lot of business for casual bar-hoppers and destination drinkers. But Nosek says he learned from experience that driving the less traveled route also has its advantages.

“When we opened here in West Oakland, people were like, ‘Who’s going to get out of there? ‘And it really blew up. And we think that this also applies to other parts of the city, ”he said. “And even for a city the size of Oakland, sometimes people don’t feel like driving east to west around town. Instead of having to come to us, we bring them the beer. “

Ghost Town Brewing’s second location will soon be 3506 MacArthur Blvd. The taproom on 1960 Adeline Street in Ghost Town West Oakland is currently open for takeaway sale Mondays through Wednesdays from 2pm to 7pm. Thursday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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