ALBANY -- The Albany Tap Room finally opened on March 8, culminating a process that took nearly two years. The brew pub at 747 San Pablo Ave. saw lines out the door on its first day, according to manager/beer guy Saed Toloui.
"It was amazing," Toloui said. "It was packed. People lined up. I don't know if next time I want to do something like that."
Toloui said that the pub's high-tech, iPad-based point-of-sale transaction system had a couple of kinks in it, but most everything else worked smoothly.
The Tap Room is located next door to Grazzy Burgers. The two businesses are related, but separate. People can wait for their burgers in the pub, or sit down in the pub for a while and decide to order a burger.
"It's nice, it's upscale but the prices are very reasonable and we sell bottles that people can take home," Toloui said. "There are 32 taps, 31 of them are beer and one is apple cider. We have about 128 items in bottles — beer, cider and mead."
The Tap Room, which is modeled after the popular Elevation 66 in El Cerrito, didn't find universal acceptance when it was going through the approval process.
There were complaints from neighbors during the planning process that the area didn't need another bar, with the Club Mallard already across the street. The building's owner, however, insisted that the brew pub and restaurant would be much more upscale.
After the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plans in January, 2012, residents packed a City Council discussion of the proposal and Councilwoman Joanne Wile asked for a council appeal. The council ended up voting 3-1 to approve the plans, with Wile voting no and then-Councilman Robert Lieber abstaining because he lives nearby.
As part of the process, the owners agreed to close at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and at 11 p.m. Fridays through Saturdays. Also, the conditional use permit will be reexamined by the City Council in six months.
Earlier this week, Toloui said a couple of neighbors have come by in the opening weeks and that so far there have been no complaints.
On Thursday evening, after press time, a ribbon-cutting was scheduled which was to include city officials.
Toloui said that one of the things the Tap Room will try to do is educate people about beer, much as wine aficionados try to learn about various wines.
"We see some of the reviews on Facebook, the people like the fact we really know about the beer," Toloui said. "That's the staff training. We really know about the beer and we are really enthusiastic about it. We love to educate people on beer and the more we educate them, they love us more."
Overall, Toloui said the owners are very happy with how things have gone so far.
"Our mission is being a destination place," he said. "We want to be something to draw people from Oakland. They come from the (larger) area, not necessarily the city of Albany."