Massive local Brewpub to open in former Masonic Lodge Downtown
(Pictured: David Copley, Eric Johnson, Chris Evans, and Jon Sweeney, the four partners on this new concept)
Beer lovers, pizza eaters, art enthusiasts, sport watchers, venue gazers, coffee sippers, and historical nerds rejoice! Altar Society Brewing Company will be the newest large-scale gathering spot in Long Beach, combining new-age open concept bar vibes with just the right hint of local mystery and old-timey magic.
It’s one of those buildings downtown you’ve probably walked by a million times but never noticed. At 230 Pine Ave, in the heart of Downtown Long Beach’s rising nightlife scene, stands the only surviving “Old” Long Beach building from before the 1933 earthquake (a catastrophe that uprooted most of the young city’s architecture).
Built in 1903 as a Masonic Hall, the building has been mostly vacant since the Masons left it in 1952. Three stories tall with high ceilings, lots of crevices and secret compartments, the mystique from a secret society of yore weaves throughout the complex. Enclosed by stone walls undergirded by a stunning basement, the singular architecture at 230 Pine made it a hard property to fill. Until the idea for a brewpub was born.
Jon Sweeney and Chris Evans, two veteran players in Long Beach’s commercial real estate industry, thought up the idea after seeing the peculiar property sit unused for so many years. “We had talked for a long while about opening a brewery, but never found the right location, until this one.” said Sweeney.
One of its great assets as a Downtown location is in the concept of “brewpub” rather than “brewery.” The focus of Altar Society is to be a restaurant that serves its own great beer, rather than a brewery producing beer to sell off-site.
Sweeney and Evans had a vision and a desire, but knew they needed help on the execution side of running a restaurant. They partnered with Eric Johnson and David Copley (of Legends, Auld Dubliner, and The Ordinarie, among other popular Long Beach venues), two men who know a thing or two about running restaurants. The resulting concept is one that Downtown desperately needs.
High craft homemade beer, with a brew house in the basement running up to taps on the first floor. New York Style Pizza, sandwiches, and wings, as part of a small but perfected menu. Open pizza ovens, counter service, and strategically placed TVs for sports watching. Standing and sitting tables, a patio, open kitchen, and full bar – offering cocktails and wine as well as beer. “We’re going after a feel like the Arts District in LA. Large pizzas, community gathering, a cultural experience, and more energy to what hasn’t been done down in Long Beach yet,” said Sweeney.
The Altar Society Brewing product line doesn’t stop at beer either. As important to the brewpub concept is their coffee shop with house-brewed and roasted coffee. There is and will be nothing like this gathering place. Open at 6am for coffee and pastries, and rockin’ till 2am on weekends with a full bar, music, and good times.
“It’s a multi-dimensional type of facility, not just one. So we’ll be a multi-faceted business,” explained Sweeney, also alluding to the beautiful 2nd and 3rd floor loft rentable for weddings, banquets, corporate events and other parties.”
Everything is centered around and built to pay homage to the incredible Masonic space. From the name Altar Society Brewing Co, to the décor and atmosphere. The space will dictate the brewpub’s success.
Eric Johnson took one tour of 230 Pine and was hooked. “It’s unlike anything; spectacular!” he raves. Speaking on behalf of the four partners, Johnson went on, “We all seem to have a background in brewing but have been waiting for the right opportunity to do it at this scale. The time is right and we think the location is fantastic.”
All four owners are Long Beach locals who have watched the market for decades. Downtown has never presented a more exciting opportunity from a hospitality standpoint. “I’d say our team is dedicated to the craft of brewing really good beers, and to do it in our home town in the oldest building in Long Beach…it’s an amazing opportunity we had to be a part of,” summed up Johnson.
Sweeney, in addition to touting the high-quality coffee, pizza, and craft beer, continued to harp on the energy-factor that a communal brewpub will bring to the area. “We’re focused on the cultural aspects a place like this brings to the table. To bring that arts- district type of energy down to an area that in the infancy of this place will be like the Gaslamp
district? That’s priceless. We’re shooting to be one of the best brewpubs on the west coast. There is nothing like this around.”
Altar Society Brewing Company is currently renovating the space to fit their needs, but plans to open late this year or early next year. To follow their progress and learn more find them on social media at Altar Society Brewing Co.