More than a year after it was approved, the new Doghouse Tap Room has finally opened at 2723 Central Avenue in Ceres.
The delay was less about the pandemic and more about the time required to make improvements to the 75-year-old block building.
“I’d say 75 percent of the work I did myself,” said Randy Beard, who owns the business with wife Gena. “It’s been a grueling process for me. There’s a lot of passion with this.”
If anything the COVID-19 pandemic gave him more time to remodel since he wouldn’t have been able to open in 2020. The Beards opened the taproom on Saturday, March 6.
In January 2020 the Ceres Planning Commission approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) because it’s required in commercial zones for the serving of alcoholic beverages. Beard and property owner Shane Parson commenced to the remodeling the 1,368-square-foot building – formerly home of Sahlstrom & Yockey bookkeeping. The façade was given a new architectural appearance, accented with brick veneer and a custom sign. Beard had plans to make the front of the taproom look like a giant doghouse but costs prevented it. Regardless, the new facade has been drawing rave reviews.
Other improvements included adding a screened outdoor courtyard patio just a stone’s throw from Highway 99 and a seating area in front. An opening allows various food trucks to offer varieties of food to go with the beer and wine served. Those vendors have thus far included Mia Yummy Yummy and Tito’s Tacos.
“I cannot express the journey this has been and to actually have people come in that just seem like good people, I mean nice people. It’s a different atmosphere than a bar atmosphere. This is something that I really want to strive for is more of a relaxed and personable atmosphere. That’s why we wanted it in a neighborhood.”
Beard decided that he wanted to change careers after spending 30 years as a commercial refrigeration contractor.
“I just wanted to do something different in my older age,” said Beard. “This is something I could actually do in my retirement as the physical ability diminishes a bit.”
The taproom serves local craft beers from Blaker Brewing in Ceres as well as wine, seltzers and malt beverages and mimosas. Food is served from a mobile food vendor on site.
The tap room is proposed to stay open six days per week (closed Tuesdays) as follows: Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Beard had nothing but praise for city staff and said they have gone above and beyond their duties to accommodate his business. Former City Manager Toby Wells, current City Manager Tom Westbrook and Chamber of Commerce official Renee Ledbetter each offered their support.
He credited former city councilmember and now county Supervisor Channce Condit – who was working for Opportunity Stanislaus last years – for getting him to consider Ceres for the home of his new taproom.
“I had not thought of Ceres until he mentioned it,” said Beard.
Established in the 1870s as a town where alcohol was forbidden, Ceres finds itself 151 years later as home to a growing list of taprooms. Blaker Brewing opened a taproom in southwest Ceres in 2018. And last year the “Tap In Wine Down” taproom opened at 3005 Fourth Street, across the street from the Rusty Nail Cocktail Lounge.