Gore Song, who plans to open a new sports bar in the Mission’s former Osha Thai space, first saw a self-pour beer system while visiting Prague with friends in college. ”It was really interactive,” he recalls. “We liked being able to try various beers, and various quantities. Our experience hanging out together was never disrupted by waiting for somebody to make a drink.”
Song will model his new bar, the Brew Coop, a little after that experience. He hopes to open with 20 taps of local and national beer plus cider, wine, and food at 819 Valencia by the end of the year. Osha Thai closed in June.
Song is the former manager and beer buyer at Tonic Group’s popular bar Soda Popinski’s, and has worked at John Colins as well as the group’s other bars like Bullitt and Teeth. The Brew Coop will provide a “sports bar vibe” with lots of TVs, a mix of high-top tables and benches, and some rentable sections for super fans.
A former restaurant space, the coming bar will have a full kitchen with food from chef Tim Luym (Buffalo Theory, Alchemy). Luym is known for his bar snacks with Filipino flavor profiles, and while the food menu at the Brew Coop won’t be Filipino specifically, Luym’s signature adobo wings will be there.
Fast-casual restaurants devoting their resources to high quality food rather than full service staff have become a popular business model amid San Francisco’s rising labor costs and rents. But Song doesn’t see his self-pour model as “a labor or a cost play.”
“We still have staff and a lot of customer touch points,” Song explains. Beyond cooking and serving customers, the staff will check customers into the bar and set them up with beer cards to scan at taps through RFID readers. Customers will then be charged for how much they pour (with ounce limits on cards — “it’s not a free for all.”) A similar system is in use at the San Francisco Brewing Company in Ghirardelli Square, though customers there can also order beer from staff.
“When you go to a really cool craft beer bar and you see a unique saison that’s like 12 bucks for an 8 ounce pour, you might not go for it. We invite people to try that,” says Song.
Keep an eye out for more details as the Brew Coop settles in.