With the opening of The Ale House Columbia this week, beer lovers and foodies now have a new local venue for lunch, dinner and happy hour.
"I think it's going to cover all the bases for the people of Columbia," said Donald Kelly, co-owner of The Ale House Columbia and Pratt Street Ale House in Baltimore. "It's an ale house; it's a sports bar; it's a restaurant. It is whatever they want it to be; just come visit us."
Ale House Columbia had a soft opening last weekend and officially opened to the public Tuesday, Dec. 11. At lunch time, Kelly said he was pleased with the crowd, especially since he and his staff had done no official marketing.
The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Ale House Columbia, located at 6480 Dobbin Center Way, off Route 175, is Friday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m.
"We've been looking (in Columbia) for about two years," Kelly said. He and co-owner Justin Dvorkan signed a lease in February.
"This is a very socially active area," Dvorkan said. "People go out often here, and there's not really a direct main street, so it's not a bar-hopping area — everything's a driving destination. We want to create a good enough environment and a good enough product so that people get here and stay, not drive all over the place."
Kelly said the building, which formally housed the Rocky Run Tap and Grill, had been vacant for four years. Now, the property — 8,500 square feet inside with an 1,110-square-foot patio — has a new kitchen, 24 TVs, three dining areas, three bars and semiprivate rooms for special events.
The Ale House Columbia has joined a number of other restaurants off Dobbin Road, including nearby specialty brew establishments Pub Dog, and the Frisco Tap House & Brewery.
"I think there's plenty enough business to go around," Kelly said. "We complement each other."
Mike Johnson, owner of the Judge's Bench in Ellicott City, was at The Ale House Columbia Tuesday "spying," he joked.
"There's plenty of room in the pool," he said. "We welcome this. Baltimore could use more good beer bars, and places that do that job well, they'll thrive."
Kelly said he and Dvorkan "wanted a comfortable feel" when it came to designing the restaurant's interior.
"We didn't want to paint ourselves into a corner, where it's just a sports bar or just an ale house," he said. "I think we're covering a lot of bases here with the beer, the televisions and the food coming out of the kitchen. I think we can please the moms, the dads and the kids."
Liz and Guy Shannon, of Ellicott City, were eating lunch at The Ale House Columbia Tuesday with their 15-month-old son, Guy, and agreed that Kelly and Dvorkan had accomplished what they'd set out to do. Liz Shannon said she plans to get food at the restaurant during lunch breaks from work, and the lunch atmosphere was a good environment to dine with a young child.
"It's loud enough that we don't feel (Guy) is interrupting or disrupting anyone's meal," Liz Shannon said. "The food's great and the people are friendly."