Sand Creek Pub

30 December 2016 Written by  By Suzanne Nardone
Published in January 2017 Articles

My husband, Joey Nardone, and I have opened Sand Creek Pub, which offers the kind of comfortable upscale-but-informal venue that we enjoy ourselves.

It is a place that invites residents to hang out while sampling a pint of beer or a glass of wine and munching on a tasty side dish. The marketplace was ready for our enterprise. The craft beers and wine industries are booming. People are looking for a “Third Place” where they can gather with friends and family members.

Our single room is spacious with high ceilings and no inner walls or supports. Four large flat screen TVs around the bar are tuned to sports channels and athletic events. There is an inviting ambiance with soft mocha colored walls, burgundy-wine accents, and in-ceiling lighting. A gifted Walnut Creek artist named Amorette Rich painted three murals on the large wall opposite the bar displaying appropriate themes including hills, orchards, a logo, a wine bottle, and (of course) Mt. Diablo.

A digital beer display hanging behind the bar offers an impressive display of our beer and wine lists. We cater to every beer drinking demographic. We rotate a large number of premium beers, making 10 of them available at a time on a revolving basis plus offering nine standard go-to selections that cover a range of tastes from Budweiser to a hoppy Sour (which has become one of my favorite choices). We don’t have a full bar but offer a specialized Bar 41 menu of wine-based cocktails including Margaritas, Cosmopolitans, and Mai Tais. Each drink uses original ingredi­ents created by award winning mixologists. The company reports that their drinks regularly beat out vodka and whisky-based cocktails in consumer taste tests.

Sand Creek Pub distinguishes itself from other establishments by offering a food menu that includes a variety of salads, paninis, and flatbreads. We offer specialty crepes, savory or sweet, with ingredient choices including Nutella, strawberry, chocolate, chicken, avocado, sour cream, and cheese. They are delicious! The menu choices provide healthy and tasty alternatives to the typical cheeseburgers-fries-and-wings fare offered in most bars and pubs.

Customers sit at tables, or at one of the 14 sit-down stools at the bar, or arrange themselves on several couches and lounging chairs. The style is all about comfort. Each of the chairs and stools are equipped with cushioned seats and seatbacks. The bar stools have footrests. The tables are designed to easily slide together to accommodate groupings of any size. Members of a softball team will drop by after a game at Sunset Park. A husband and wife will choose Sand Creek Pub as their date night destination. Members of a girls’ night out event will make us a stop. We’ll be available for private parties and are planning our own paint nights. Local clubs will use our space for meetings and functions.

Our December 4 Opening Day was the culmination of several years of dreaming and planning. Joey had worked for years in the movie theater industry. The job involved traveling to workshops and conferences, lengthy commutes, and especially maintaining availability 24/7. We began to dream of his leaving that career behind and embarking on something closer to home that would allow us to enjoy a better quality life. He left the movie industry several years ago and we spent a year looking at various locations for our new business before finding an ideal midtown spot in the Sand Creek Crossing, across Sand Creek from McDonald’s.

Joey and I have always worked well together, which is one of the reasons we were excited about the Sand Creek Pub project. We are complementary and not competitive. He is gifted at front-of-house management tasks, dealing with customers, and managing social media and advertising. I enjoy mixing with customers, but especially take care of the behind the scenes tasks such as managing the kitchen, working with distributors, ordering supplies, and managing inventory.

We took the first concrete step when we filled out an application for a beer & wine license. Following the mandatory 30-day waiting period we spent six months completing renovations. I’m a Brentwood Elementary special education teacher, which provided no background for pub design. However, following the philosophy that any good teacher should be an exceptional learner, I got on the Internet and began researching such things as design philosophies, decoration styles, and construction materials.

The venue had previously been a martial arts studio; we were essentially left with an empty rectangle. Previously, however, the space had been a restaurant so there was some plumbing, a space for a cooking hood, and some ductwork. Nothing else! I spent hours on the Internet and discovered that I had gone into the project not knowing what I didn’t know. Creating a commercial food-and-drink place from scratch was more difficult than I imagined. I learned a lot, taking small steps and moving the project forward one week at a time. We began painting, taking up carpet, laying down a beautiful faux hardwood floor, and installing huge granite slabs to serve as the top of our spacious bar.

Fortunately, a good friend of ours walked with me through every part of the process. I haunted supply stores to identify the cooking appliances and utensils we would need. I communi­cated extensively with the County Health Department to ensure that we were in compliance with their require­ments and regulations.

A big part of the project was choosing breweries and then selecting the beers we would actually serve. We had to choose how many beers and what kind, whether craft, standard, or a mixture. Dan Forest at Markstein Beverage was particularly helpful in guiding me through the process of setting up the beer service, working with me from the beginning right through opening day.

I put the food menu together with some of my favorite personal recipes and told Joey how excited I was about my crepes. Joey said he never heard of a pub that served these. “That’s why I want to do it!” I told him. “We’re going to be different!” Customers already seem pleased with our menu.

Sand Creek Pub is a family affair. Our daughters — 21-year-old Ariana and 18-year-old Casey — are working in the kitchen and waiting on customers.

Joey has been a member of Brentwood Rotary for six years; we’re both glad to give back to the community. Sand Creek Pub itself is our contribution to improving the quality of life for Brentwood residents. The pub is a work-in-progress. We will continue to refine and augment our already pleasant venue. We will add décor elements as we continue to grow. Wine barrel tables are coming in. A jukebox and ATM will be arriving shortly.

We expect that Brentwood residents will enjoy the service at Sand Creek Pub just as Joey and I enjoy serving them.

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