A long in-the-works project to fill the soaring Fraser’s Boiler Service building at 1735 National Avenue in Barrio Logan is finally coming to light. The 40,000-square-foot former factory, which became home to a production facility and tasting room for North Park’s Thorn Brewing Co. in 2017, has now been fully activated; dubbed the ‘Acre of Awesome’, the new dining and drinking destination holds multiple employee-owned concepts headed up by Thorn Brewing founder Dennis O’ Connor.
Launching in two stages, the first wave is scheduled to touch down on Thursday, November 19 starting with Sideyard BBQ by HottMess, an all-outdoor restaurant featuring a menu of Texas-style barbecue. Operating from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and spearheaded by pitmaster David Kendall, an alum of Grand Ole BBQ, it’ll offer plates and sandwiches of smoked meat including tri tip, brisket, pulled pork, and turkey as well as grilled cauliflower steak and sides like sweet potato salad and coleslaw.
A sustainably-minded focus connects all the on-site businesses, with overstock and expired beer from Thorn fueling a new small-batch distillery and charcoal from Sideyard BBQ employed to clarify its spirits. Run by award-winning master distiller Neil Lotz, previously of Desert Distilling, and powered by a 1,500-liter German Kothe still, ReBru Spirits will debut with vodka and gin; future bottlings will include whiskey and limited experimental releases.
Beverage director Gareth Moore (Home & Away, LOLA 55, Born & Raised) will use the house spirits for a seasonal cocktail menu that includes the Rose Gold with ReBru Vodka, lime, and Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro. Moore’s batched cocktails will eventually be canned under the moniker Sideyard Cocktails.
Creative director Christine Cole (Modern Times) designed the space with as many up-cycled elements as possible. The bar is made from a repurposed horse trailer and most of the furniture and decor pieces are from previously-shuttered restaurants. A zero-waste approach means no single-use plastics and partnerships with San Pasqual Valley Soils and Frank Konyn Dairy to turn its kitchen scraps into compost or animal feed.
Spent grain from the brewery will be incorporated into the dough used for the pies served at HottMess Woodfired Pizza, a second eatery that will open at a later date. Executive chef Kenzo Inai’s (Home & Away, Rancho Bernardo Inn) menu of woodfired Neapolitan-style pies, priced at $13 to $18, will include both traditional and unconventional toppings. .