For more than 20 years, the Ale House Pub and Eatery had been a sports bar staple along University Place’s Mildred Street. While other businesses along that same stretch of road came and went (including corporate restaurants and a movie theater), the Ale House always managed to stay afloat with a firm customer base and a reputation for good beer, good food and good times.
Then in July of 2013, there was a kitchen fire. And, for two years, the Ale House lay dormant. The situation was grim.
“An entire remodel was needed from the inside out,” explains Pete Delyanis, who co-owns the pub with Jon Ecklund as of 2015. “New cooling units, new fire sprinklers, all new kitchen equipment were added and an enormous vault was installed under the back parking lot to intercept grease before it runs into the sewer system. Those are the changes you won’t necessarily see. On top of that, though, there was a complete remodel of the dining room and bar. You’ll notice the old sticky carpet was removed and the original concrete floor was stained and polished. We’re especially proud of the fresh restrooms. It was quite a project and the prior owners fought hard to bring the Ale House up to code and past inspections before Jon and I could step in. They encountered delays for sure, which you commonly see with large-scale endeavors like this. With their inspections finally complete, Jon and I were able to step in and take ownership in the middle of May 2015.”
Three weeks later, the Ale House reopened its doors on June 8, 2015 – just in time for the U.S. Open.
The reopening was by no means a smooth one. “We chose to launch before the U.S. Open rather than postpone for yet another month,” says Delyanis. “In hindsight, we probably should have spent longer training the new crew. It is fair to say that we could have handled the crowds better with more training in the kitchen and on the floor. We had a great team who did well under the circumstances, but we let customers down too often which cost us their trust.”
After some growing pains, the Ale House found its footing once more. Delyanis and Ecklund rehired Sue Peters, a manager at the Ale House prior to the fire, to whip things back into shape. “Sue has been the heart and soul of the Ale House during the glory days,” says Delyanis. “We’re very fortunate to have her back at the Ale House to lead the charge.”
Once Sue Peters was hired, the management strategy became simple: empower dedicated and smart people to leverage their own talents to provide a one of a kind experience for guests. Because after all, guests are what make or break a restaurant. “With a strong belief in customer service,” explains Delyanis, “guests will be well cared for. I’m really proud of our staff, and my main focus as an owner is to make sure they have the tools they need to exceed customers’ expectations.”
These tools include two major pillars: great food and great beer. “Good food starts with good ingredients,” laughs Delyanis. “That might have been in a commercial somewhere, but it’s true. Our kitchen team uses unique ingredients to add their own twist to pub classics. It’s a lot better than the rip, heat and serve recipes some places use.”
Many of the items on the menu, like the house potato chips and most sauces, are made from scratch, which is a far cry from the competing chain restaurants in the area.
Where beer is concerned, the Ale House is no slouch.
“Excellent beer has always been the center of the Ale House – it’s in our name,” says Delyanis. As it stands the Ale House has 32 taps, with the capacity of increasing that number to 64. “As the people speak, so shall we respond. When it’s clear people desire yet a wider selection of beer, we have the capability of expanding our number of taps out to 64. If they come, we shall build it. Recently, though, people are finding an intriguing selection because of the thoughtful rotator taps. We are huge supporters of our local breweries no matter which side of the Narrows they’re located. That’s why you will always find local beers on taps number 2, 5 and 3. Get it? It’s a number play on our area code.”
With the customer base regaining traction once more, the future of the Ale House is bright. Patrons can expect an ever-rotating tap list, an updated menu and a come-as-you-are atmosphere.
“The main reason Jon and I reopened the Ale House is to provide the community with a special place to gather and spend time with friends over great beer, great food and local sports,” says Delyanis. “That vision wasn’t made as clear as we would have liked in June 2015. But it’s the end of 2017 now and we have the right team in place to grow the Ale House back into the roaring place it’s been in the past.”
Visit the Ale House Pub and Eatery at 2122 Mildred Street W. in Tacoma, visit their website or give them a call at 253-565-9367.