New Bartender, Ale House Opening, Switching Concepts

Share this:

New Bartender at Five Crowns and SideDoor

Bartender Peter Thom was a bartender and beer manager at Farmhouse restaurant, until he decided to leave through a side door — make that SideDoor.

Thom was recently appointed lead bartender of Five Crowns and SideDoor in Corona del Mar.

Five Crowns and SideDoor’s new lead bartender, Peter Thom bartender.
— Photo courtesy of SideDoor ©

“We are delighted to welcome Peter Thom to our growing team of talented staff,” said Ryan Wilson, chief marketing and strategy officer for Lawry’s Restaurants Inc., which owns the two restaurants. “As SideDoor nears its 10th anniversary in January of 2020, Peter will certainly be a valuable asset as we continue to develop our bar program.”

I learned that Thom’s beverage of choice is a gin cocktail, while his favorite drink to make is a creative spin on the classic old fashioned. When it comes to garnishes, Thom never misses an opportunity to utilize fresh herbs and fruits picked from the restaurants’ culinary garden, Hazel Street Farm.

Thom has already been hard at work behind the bar, developing a new menu of seasonal sips including smoke on the horizon with Dulce Vida reposado, Siembra mezcal and fresh lemon.

Seasonal cocktail menu highlights: Bittersweet Italian with Anchor Junipero gin, strawberry Campari, Carpano Antica, egg white; Route 66 with Luxardo sour cherry gin, Velvet Falernum, fresh lime, half & half; Five Crowns old-fashioned with Woodford Reserve, Angostura bitters, Luxardo cherry, turbinado sugar; blushing geisha with SakeMoto sake, Pomp and Whimsy gin, Maraschino liqueur, rose water; and the rook with High West double rye, Benedictine, Montenegro, and bitters.

For more information, visit


Patrons eat, drink and say cheers at the newly opened Helmsman Ale House on the Balboa Peninsula.
— Photo courtesy of Helmsman ©

Helmsman Ale House Opens on Balboa Peninsula

Newport Beach Brewing Company was a fixture on Balboa Peninsula for 20 years until it closed last year to make way for Helmsman Ale House, Newport Beach’s only craft brewery, that opened earlier this summer.

The interior of the new Helmsman Ale House on the Balboa Peninsula.
— Photo courtesy of Helmsman ©

Located in Cannery Village, Helmsman is a 15-barrel brewhouse, complete with a full-service, family-friendly restaurant.

The 4,200-square-foot facility is capable of pouring upwards of a dozen small-batch beers at a time.

The new concept comes under the direction of local restauranteur Mario Marovic and Andrew Gabriel, who have had solid hits with 13 other hospitality projects throughout Orange County including Stag Bar, Dory Deli, Playa Mesa, The Country Club, and many others.

Food from the new Helmsman Ale House on the Balboa Peninsula.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

“We have a deep-rooted local connection with the communities of each location, which is key to understanding what each area responds well to,” said Marovic. “The Helmsman site has been home to a brewpub for over 20 years, and with our makeover we hope to be here another twenty and beyond.”

I popped in for lunch a few weeks ago. After some suggestions from my server, I ordered the tri tip sando ($15) with fries. But first, they brought out some outrageous biscuits topped with cheese, plus butter and jam. Insanely good. The tri tip sandwich was good while the fries were outstanding, crispy on the outside and soft inside, perfectly seasoned.

For more information, visit


More Thanks for Gratitude

Last week, I mentioned that Gratitude Kitchen & Bar is closing for renovations on Sept. 3, and when it reopens in November, it will have a new look and a new name: Gracias Madre.

Gracias Madre and Gratitude are both part of the Love Serve Remember restaurant group. Gracias Madre’s original location in West Hollywood has become a staple in the Los Angeles food scene since its launch in 2014, with a focus on plant-based Mexican food.

I was curious why the restaurant group decided to switch concepts, so I reached out for an answer. I got one from co-owner Ryland Engelhart.

“We introduced Gratitude Kitchen & Bar in Newport Beach, which was a higher end version of Café Gratitude, also offering a full bar. We don’t think that the population quite captured the difference in concept at this location,” he said. “Although we have a great and steady, clientele, when we looked at the feedback and what people wanted, it was our margaritas and nachos, which are our most ordered items.”

The dinner spread at Gracias Madre, which plans to open in November.
— Photo courtesy Gracias Madre

I agree, the margaritas are tasty, as are the nachos.

“We are also excited to be able to offer more private events with the new layout of the restaurant. We are adding a private dining room that will open in time for people to host their holiday gatherings, but it will be a space where people can celebrate year-round,” he explained.

Sounds good to me. I’m looking forward to trying the Gracias Madre menu, especially the jackfruit tacos.

For more information, visit visit

Share this: