Almost a year after it was first announced, Bubba Brews this week will open its Spa City Taproom in downtown Hot Springs. The new taproom opens Thursday and is the third Arkansas location for Bubba Brews, joining the original Bonnerdale spot and newly opened restaurant and bar on Lake Hamilton. Each location has its own unique feel, and for the new Spa City Taproom, owner Jonathan Martin took his inspiration from overseas.
“I spent a couple of weeks in the UK, and we hit every pub and tavern we could find,” said Martin. “And every one of them looked like they were very comfortable, very warm. So we wanted to go with an English pub or tavern feel, with some of the hunting lodge décor as well.”
The taproom is cozy and masculine, with rich, dark woods and warm lighting inviting guests to relax and enjoy one of the 16 beer taps featured behind the bar. Almost all the taps will carry Bubba Brews’ own creations; the few other taps will be devoted to other Arkansas-made craft beer. A large chandelier made of deer antlers lends itself to the hunting lodge vibe that Martin wanted to incorporate.
There is a lot of history in the former Bank of America space as well. The bar is the original granite teller line; one of the tables is where bank customers would fill out deposit slips. The striking mirror behind the bar is more than a century old and was brought in from another Hot Springs building. In the back, both the kitchen and private dining room are housed in the former vault, which used to be the location where the intake from Oaklawn was counted. And if all that wasn’t enough, the building is an original design by architect Edward Durrel Stone, the man who designed Radio City Music Hall and the Musuem of Modern Art in New York City.
Martin has carefully updated the space to seat 94 people inside and 60 outside on the former terrace entryway. Guests will enjoy a menu of upscale pub food that is very reasonably priced. Items that are sure to be popular include pork belly corn dogs, jalapeno fritters, and a brie and bacon baguette. Martin says the combination of the menu and the atmosphere hits close to what he originally planned Bubba Brews to become.
“This captures more of my vision as far as the décor and the food,” said Martin. (Lake Hamilton chef) Porter (Montgomery) and I spent a lot of time on the menu, we’re hoping to put out a small menu of really good food. But the beer is still the focus.”
After the opening on Thursday, Martin will turn his attention to providing enough beer for all three locations plus distribution. The Lake Hamilton location alone is going through more than 35 kegs a week at this point, and Martin expects the Spa City Taproom will stay busy year-round. We will keep you up to date with the new brews and seasonal favorites Bubba Brews is offering in our weekly Growlers roundup. During opening week, Bubba Brews Spa City Taproom will be open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. It will begin regular hours next week.