Marin Independent Journal, Thursday, August 31, 1995

Patrons Toast New Novato Brew Pub

Restaurant-bar Draws Crowd

By Tanya Schevitz
Independant Journal Writer

Cabinet maker Alan McGowan finally got to see the fruits of his labor this week when Moylan's Brewery and Restaurant opened across from Vintage Oaks shopping center in Novato.

"I built this brewery. I did all the cabinet work in here. I wanted to see how it turned out," said McGowan, 38, as he walked up to the 52-foot white birch bar he crafted.

It took owner Brendan Moylan four years to steer through a complex maze of local and state regulations before he could open his new brewery off Highway 101 on Rowland Way. Business is hopping. One recent night, customers had to elbow their way to the bar for one of the brewery's five beers made by brewmaster Paddy Giffen, 45.

Allan Sanderson was driving to his office at Fireman's Fund on afternoon this week when he saw the brewery was finally open.

"It's really nice. I figured anything that takes that long to build has got to be pretty good," Sanderson, 43, said. "There is no place to go in Novato. There is the Hilltop and they do have some good Mexican restaurants around here, but they really need a place like this."

Microbreweries have gained a popularity in the past few years, especially among young professionals looking for a place to meet friends and savor good beer during lunch and after work.

Moylan, 34, who co-owns Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, said he saw a void in Novato and wanted to fill it by opening his own place.

"It's just one of those crazy dreams. The first pub worked out real well and this type of business is a real fun business and Novato really needed a fun place for people to go and relax and get a beer and get something good to eat," Moylan said.

Moylan's serves an upscale pub fare, with everything from vegetable kabob appetizers to wood-fired pizza and grilled pork chops with baked apples.

With the Rowland Plaza movie theater right next door, Moylan's is considering putting in a "movie quick menu" for people who are in a rush to make it to a show, said manager Kirk Roberts.

"You've got the business right here and Fireman's Fund close by," Roberts said. "I'm expecting a real killer lunch business to go along with our dynamite night business."

The inside of the brewery makes it look like it should be set on the side of a ski slope in Tahoe. The rough wood beams of the high ceiling are adorned with unassuming candle chandeliers. The walls are almost bare.

"I think it has a great atmosphere," said Jim McCaulf, 29. "It has that kind of rustic woody look."

He wasn't sampling the beer because he was on a short break from his job as a meter reader for PG&E, and he didn't want anything but the meters spinning.

Alan Heim and Ben Jones expect that they and their colleagues at NCO Software will be frequenting the spot.

Jones, who fancies himself a beer connoisseur, crtiqued the brewery's beer menu.

"It is not too heavy. It's got a low enough alcohol level that you can drink it at lunch and it's very fresh so you don't get a lot of iron residue and flakes. This was very good," said Jones, 25, as he drained a black forest beer.

"We work just up the street and we think it's a great idea. It will mean lots of off-site meetings," said Heim, 31, who does technical support for NCO Software.

As he and Jones finished up their beers and meals, Heim grinned and, in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger accent, said: "We'll be back."

Moylan's is not just a place to down a cold brew. It is a family place as well.

Doug DeSalvio, 34, a chiropractor from Novato, brought his wife and two young daughters to Moylan's for lunch this week.

"Novato's day spots and even night spots are few and far between. The food choices are limited and now that we have a brewery it makes it more fun to go to," DeSalvio said.

Compiled from IJ staff reports