North Texas Daily

Crafting the Denton beer scene

Crafting the Denton beer scene

Crafting the Denton beer scene
August 29
14:05 2013

Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer

East of Austin Street, a gray building speckled with green diamonds is surrounded by work trucks and various vehicles. Inside, men are drilling, inspecting and rearranging. The East Side Social Club is almost open for business.

John Williams, 32, is one of the owners of Oak St. Drafthouse, as well as the newest addition to Denton’s bar scene, the East Side Social Club. The bar is located at 117 E. Oak St. and opens today.

Williams, anxious behind his immense beard and signature backwards cap, could only answer questions in between inspectors. First, he walked through with the fire inspector, and after only three minutes of calm, a health inspector walked in.

Williams has been working 14-hour days for the past three weeks to prepare for the grand opening this weekend, without including the countless hours he’s spent overseeing Oak St. Every five minutes, he said, he has something else he needs to give his attention to.

“I have a line of people that want to talk to me,” Williams said.

Williams said that while he had the idea for a house-turned-bar for a few years before Oak St. Drafthouse’s inception, the East Side Social Club was a decision made more so on a whim.

“At the beginning of the year when the property came up for sale, he didn’t really have a plan on opening a new bar at that point,” Oak St. bartender Mikey Rusell said. “But the property came up and he figured if he didn’t do it somebody else was going to do it.”

Strange as it may seem to open up a bar just a few football field lengths from another bar he owns, Williams said he sees it as an opportunity to create an area dedicated to craft beers.

“I’m going to try to get people from surrounding cities, people from Dallas and Forth Worth, to start driving to Denton,” he said.

Both bars will have a vast craft beer selection. East Side Social club will have 89 beers on tap, while Oak St. Drafthouse has 72. Outside of three or

Photo By Fey Sandoval / Staff Photographer

four beers, the beers will be different at the two locations.

East Side will also offer more than 60 different whiskeys, bourbons and scotches. Along with cocktails and beer flights, Williams is contemplating having bourbon flights as well.

The indoor area will be larger than Oak St., and will also have televisions.

“I expect that this bar will bring a place to hang out and enjoy beers for the students and local Dentonites,” said Patrick Blancas, another owner of East Side. “I also hope that East Side Social Club will introduce the art of craft beers to the people of Denton.”

Russell, who described Williams as driven, credits his boss for his bartending skills.

“He just showed me how to be a good, effective bartender while also being cordial to the customers,” Russell said. “He wants the customers to be happy. He really promotes a welcoming bar atmosphere for people and I really respect that.”

Desmond Moore, another Oak St. bartender, referred to Williams as a people person.

“He’s not doing it just for business. He actually cares,” Moore said. “He’s one of the nicest bosses I’ve had and he makes working for him enjoyable.”

Armadillo Ale Works co-founder Yianni Arestis attended East Side’s soft opening last night.

“It’s got a totally different vibe than Oak St., of course it’s a little ritzier,” Arestis said. “I think it’s super cool he could have two so close and I think they’ll coexist well. People will go to both but ultimately choose one over the other. It’s great for the local craft beer scene in Denton. No one knows local like John – just look at his tap wall. He cares about local a lot.”

Photo By Fey Sandoval / Staff Photographer

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