Don’t panic: the burgers aren’t going anywhere.
War Streets Brewery owner Jake Bier and partner Abbey Surrena just bought Benjamin’s Western Avenue Burger Bar in Allegheny West which will be rebranded as “Bier’s Pub: home to the War Streets Taproom.”
(Could the name be more fitting?)
When NEXTpittsburgh first met Bier in November 2015, he and partner Zach Ingoldsby had just signed an eight-year lease to open the small-scale War Streets Brewery in a 140-year-old firehouse across from Randyland on the North Side.
“I want it to be a close-knit little community bar,” Bier told NEXT at the time.
A bitter dispute with the landlord torpedoed those plans and precipitated a search for a new home. Bier was bartending part-time at Benjamin’s during the dispute when he learned owner Paul Tebbets was looking to sell. He and Surrena, who also tended bar at Benjamin’s, approached the owner and eventually purchased the business for an undisclosed sum.
“It got us out of an uncomfortable situation and puts us on the map in a place that already exists and has a following,” says Bier.
The pair doesn’t want to shut its doors during the transition, so changes, including the name, will happen gradually in the coming months. They plan to repurpose a rear courtyard as an outdoor biergärten and reinstall a bar in a currently underused back area that will serve as the main taproom for the brewery. The front of the house (and the menu) will remain pretty much the same.
They also hope to expand special events. Last week they hosted a North Side brewery trolley tour that ended with dinner at the restaurant. And they would like to introduce regular weekend yoga and brunch sessions.
Expect the name to officially change over sometime in the fall. Bier is still waiting for a new one-barrel brewing system to arrive so for now, he’s still brewing on his original half-barrel pilot system.
The slogan for the original War Streets Brewery was “a beer for every street,” and beer names like Resaca Red and Sherman Stout paid homage to the neighborhood. Bier and Surrena say that a few regulars have been ribbing them over the beer names (even though the War Streets are only two blocks away) so there’s a new beer on tap — Beech Ave. Blonde — that’s a nod to the new neighborhood.
“We’re trying to [meld] the two identities together,” says Bier, a War Streets resident. “At the end of the day, I think this is truly a blessing in disguise.”