Alex Carballo, the executive chef of Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens for five years, has helmed the Escondido brewpub, helped to open Stone's new Liberty Station, overseen the company's event catering and recently relaunched Stone Farms.
Carballo has announced that he will be leaving his position with Stone at the end of the month to partner with Jon Mangini (URBN North Park and Vista, BASIC, Gang Kitchen) to open a new URBN brewpub in East County, taking over the location vacated by the El Cajon Brewing Company in April. Eater caught up with the chef to hear about his latest project, which is slated for a late fall or early winter opening.
How did this move come about?
As a chef, you always dream about the opportunity to have your own place but it takes a lot of money and a certain kind of person to really get that going. My friend Jeff from Terra introduced me to his broker and I asked him to look into the El Cajon Brewing Company property. East County needs a little love; I live there and I was so excited to see them first open because it was something new.
I got introduced to the guys from URBN and we started talking to see if this might be the right fit for all of us, and it was. My idea is not to revolutionize the world, I just want to bring something good to El Cajon; I'll still do the local and sustainable food I was doing with Stone, this is just a new adventure.
[Photo by StudioSchulz.com via Stone Brewing Co.]
Will you be working within the structure of the existing URBN menu?
I wouldn't be with them if I didn't believe in what they were doing now but I think the potential for collaboration is great. One of the things I don't know want is to go too far and have 15 different ingredients in each menu item. I just want really great food, great beers and a place where you can have a good time. We haven't finalized everything, but I know that we all want what will fit the best in El Cajon.
Are you going to be making any tweaks to the other URBNs?
I'm hoping to help them in any way I can and be a resource. I'd like to unite all three URBNs to make sure all the recipes are aligned and help to provide organizational structure. I'm a collaborator, so I'm really looking forward to working with the guys in the kitchen and doing some cool beer dinners.
Is the space pretty turnkey or do you have to do a lot of work to it?
It's pretty turnkey but we're definitely going to give it that URBN feel and bring something nice and new out there.
Are you spearheading the search for a brewer?
One of the biggest factors in having me join the team was my connections to breweries and training myself with some of the best in the world. The craft beer community is really tight and I've gotten some great advice on brewers and which direction to take. We're in the marriage proposal stage right now; we definitely have some great local candidates and we're hoping to decide on who's the best fit by August.
You spent five years at a pretty great gig, was it hard to leave Stone Brewing Co.?
I really learned how to adapt while we grew as quickly as we did and I worked with some of the best in the business. It's going to be a great gig for anybody. I told our CEO Greg Koch that if I ever left Stone, it would be for my own thing, otherwise there'd be no reason other reason. It's probably the hardest restaurant I've had to leave; I have so much time and love invested in it, but this was just the right opportunity. I wish Stone nothing but the best.
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