Smokestack, Magnolia Brewing Company’s ambitious Dogpatch beer and barbecue spinoff, will close for a major overhaul on Monday, June 18th, reopening in August under the simplified name Magnolia Dogpatch. Changes will include more drinking and dining space, an updated beer list from Magnolia’s new brewmaster, and a new menu that leaves barbecue behind to focus on quality pub food like that of Magnolia’s original Haight Street location.
The move reflects a changing of the guard at Magnolia, which was acquired last year by Colorado brewery New Belgium and Belgian brewer Oud Beersel. It also comes with news of another major shakeup at Magnolia: Dave McLean, the brewery’s founder and a local beer pioneer who recently co-founded craft malthouse Admiral Maltings, is no longer a part of Magnolia, which he started in 1997.
A year after Magnolia completed its costly expansion to Dogpatch in 2014, McLean filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy: While the brewery was profitable, he said, it wasn’t able to keep up with its debt obligations. Both the Haight and Dogpatch brewpubs continued to do business as usual until last year, when New Belgium founder Kim Jordan announced the acquisition.
Dick Cantwell — Jordan’s partner and the head brewer at Seattle’s Elysian brewing until he resigned after its sale to AB-InBev — came onboard as Magnolia’s new head brewer and part-owner. Plans at the time called for McLean to work with Jordan and Cantwell as a Magnolia employee.
Brian Reccow, whose hospitality management company, the Specialistas, guided Magnolia through its bankruptcy and acquisition process, is now Magnolia’s CEO. “Dave’s still the founder of Magnolia, but the story of Magnolia is bigger than him,” says Reccow. “Kim, Dick, and I aren’t just trying to be stewards of the brand... we’re trying to make sure it’s around for a long time to come.”
For his part, McLean says the split was harmonious. “I do love the folks that have taken [Magnolia] on, the new ownership group, and I have a lot of respect for them to do cool new things while honoring the legacy [of Magnolia],” he tells Eater SF. “I’ve always looked at Magnolia as kind of like a child, I suppose, and now it feels like I just sent it off to college.”
“It will always be near and dear to my heart,” says McLean. “I’ve poured so much of my time and energy and life into it, so it’s strange to be disconnected from it, but it’s all very amicable.”
At the new Magnolia Dogpatch, Reccow promises a “brighter, funkier feel” and an added emphasis on serving its Dogpatch neighbors. A loading dock area that was mostly unfinished will become a beer garden with a custom set of bleachers, allowing for more volume and drinks like cocktails to be sold at lower prices. The kitchen is being remodeled completely, and the team is looking for a new chef.
“We feel like we’ve listened to our neighbors and our community, and we get that opportunity now to be like Magnolia has been on Haight Street for 21 years,” says Reccow.