Taps for all

Willie Matthews

Photo by Howard Hardee

The idea behind The Chico Taproom, says co-owner Willie Matthews, is that it will offer styles of beer beyond the imperial stouts and IPAs popular with many craft-beer aficionados. “Once you have a place like this, you just want to buy all the beer that you like,” he said. “But everybody’s palate is a little different, and having 40 tap handles gives us that ability to offer a little something for everybody.” Matthews, 31, and his wife, Claire, met in Chico and helped run a 32-handle craft-beer bar and restaurant in Pacifica before returning here to buy a home and start a business of their own. The new beer bar opened in the Almond Orchard shopping center on May 5, and it’s looking spiffy with a shiny bar top, Chico-themed décor, an outdoor patio and a digital beer menu. Drop by for a drink at 2201 Pillsbury Road, Ste. 114, or search “The Chico Taproom” on Facebook.

How long has this been in the works?

I’ve wanted to open a bar and restaurant pretty much my entire life, which is why going down to the Bay Area was a really good experience. I was able to cut my teeth and figure it out; neither of us had ever done the service industry before.

Is location a concern for you?

Well, the bike path is right there. But the one thing we’ve heard … is that people are really happy that we’re on this side of town. We did feel like the north side of town was a little underserved. And, yeah, volume is a concern, but we’re in our infancy and we’re still figuring all of that out.

So, why no food service?

We did that in Pacifica, and I really liked running a busy food service when we were humming and my kitchen was good, my service was good. But it’s a lot of moving pieces and a lot can go wrong. There’s a financial consideration, too. It doubles your build-out cost and it triples your monthly overhead. I may look to do [food service] in the future if this place works out for us. Also, we’re cool with people bringing their own food in.

Did you have any problems getting an alcohol license?

The plans went through the city pretty quickly. Not being downtown helped, and I assume not doing hard alcohol helped as well. We’re not a bar-type bar.

Are all 40 of your taps rotating?

I don’t like dedicated handles. We will be rotating 39 handles, which includes three ciders.

So, one beer will be a fixture?

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. If we have the stones to call ourselves The Chico Taproom, we really should serve the beer that started the craft beer industry in California.