Bud Light commercials may have been a dominant force in the Super Bowl commercial lineup Sunday. But you’re not likely to find Bud Light among the artisan brews sold at a beer specialty shop and café proposed for downtown Walnut Creek.
Chuck Stilphen, a co-owner of the popular Trappist Belgian-style beer café in Oakland, wants to bring a European-style appreciation of the art of making and tasting beer to the East Bay suburbs.
He is seeking a conditional use permit from the Walnut Creek Planning Commission on Thursday that would allow his business, tentatively titled St. Sixtus Specialty Beer Shop and Cafe, to sell beer in a remodeled Giammona Drive space that housed an antique store.
Stilphen, who lives in Lafayette, has told city planners that his 1,456-square-foot shop would sell about 300 to 500 varieties of rare and artisan beer. The shop also would include four tables and 16 seats at which people could sit and sample beer and have a bite to eat.
Stilphen said he is aware that Walnut Creek is trying to come to terms with how it will allow its many downtown establishments to serve alcohol in light of growing concerns about public safety and rowdy behavior among late-night-crowds.
“They don’t want anything new opening like a bar,” he said. “This place is very much not a bar. You can get beer there, but it is tasting—more along the lines of a wine bar.” He added that he won't be serving pitchers of beer and there won't be TVs where sports fans can sit and watch games.
Stilphen's beer shop and café would close at 11 p.m.
Walnut Creek police and city officials have said that the witching hour—in terms of Walnut Creek’s night life scene turning rowdy—tends to strike closer to midnight and in bars and clubs that are open past midnight.
“The primary issues typically related to the sales and service of alcoholic beverages are noise, litter, and other nuisance impacts related to customers entering and leaving the business as well as the increased demand for police services," wrote Andrew Smith, a senior planner with the city.
Smith noted that two-thirds of Stilphen’s proposed shop is given over to retail, and that there is not much seating capacity—so not many people consuming alcohol on the premises. The community development department is recommending that the Planning Commission approve the conditional use permit, adding that the Police Department signed off on the 11 p.m. closing time.
Stilphen says it’s time for the East Bay suburbs to get acquainted with the amazing variety and complexity of beer being crafted locally and internationally.
His shop will be “all about the the small brewer: Belgian, Dutch, Scandinavian, local brewers—the really rare, hard things to find," he said.
The city's Planning Commission meets 7 p.m. Thursday in the City Council chambers, 1666 N. Main St.