There's a sports bar on the corner of North Silverbell and North Wade roads, The Station, that draws a reliable neighborhood crowd, especially on big-game days.
The parking lot at Home Plate a quarter mile down Silverbell fills up early on those same big game days.
And beginning Thursday, Aug. 10, they'll have some company in Marana's Continental Ranch neighborhood.
But Growler's Taphouse in the plaza next door to The Station isn't positioning itself as a sports bar.
It's more of a grownups-who-love-craft-brews kinda place, where Executive Chef James LaMont will dip fresh-cut rings of onion in a rich Barrio's stout beer batter and fry them golden to go with one of 30 regional and national craft brews on tap.
Sports will no doubt be blaring from the 10 TVs mounted over the bar and hanging on the walls of the 3,000-square-foot restaurant/taproom at 8275 N. Silverbell Road. But the focus will be on the craft beers and microbrews from several Tucson breweries, a few around the state and some as far flung as New York, New Jersey and the New England region, all curated by veteran Tucson bar manager Tommy DeStefano.
To complement the beer, LaMont and his staff have a menu that will employ co-owner/General Manager Dustin McMillan's beloved smoker. Smoked baby back ribs and pulled pork are highlights of the "Gettin' Smoked" section of the menu, which is divided into prohibition era categories: "Babyface Sides" which include the beer-battered onion rings; "Bootlegger Breadboards," highlighted by the all inclusive meat and cheese board "The Loot"; "Chopper Squad Salads" that feature the "Scarface Caesar"; and "Happy Days are Beer Again" bar snacks including "Packin' Heat" chips and house salsa.
Growler's Taphouse takes its inspiration from the prohibition era and celebrates prohibition's liberation. Photos of 1930s mobsters and crime fighters — mob boss Al Capone and his FBI nemesis Eliot Ness are cornerstones — are blended in with photos of barkeeps filling the metal growlers that originated in the 1880s.
The theme builds on that history, said McMillan's mother and partner Dawn,. The mother and son co-own the restaurant with Dawn's husband, Lee Fabrizio, a retired FBI special agent. Dawn and Lee own a pair of private investigation-centered businesses in Kingman, where they lived until moving to Oro Valley in January.
Dawn McMillan said the family researched the origin of the term "growler" — it dates back to the late 20th century when workers filled their metal lunch pails with beer from the bar or breweries after work and the containers made a growling sound as the carbonation escaped.
The family built the restaurant's theme around that history. Other photos on the walls include black-and-white images of bartenders filling rows of metal pails from the taps and young boys carrying the pails to the workers.
Growler's was Dustin's idea and after the former firefighter/EMT came up with a detailed business plan, his mom and stepdad were all in. The family found the Marana location early this year and started work on the $500,000-plus build-out in the spring. The idea was to open in May, but construction took longer than they had planned.
Special touches include hand-stained wood-slat walls, handcrafted industrial-stylized metal-pipe-and-wood high tables and chairs and an outdoor fireplace on the patio that can seat 70. The dining room, which can seat 80 and will include a standing rail, is festooned with Edison bare bulbs dangling from the ceiling, casting a sheen over the epoxy concrete floors. In the restrooms, Dawn McMillan hand-laid thousands of pennies to create penny floors using that same epoxy.
Growler's opens at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The kitchen will close at 10 p.m. nightly. Details: Click here for Growler's Facebook page.
Growler's is the first craft brew taproom south of Interstate 10 in Marana.
Marana is also home to Monsoons Tap & Grill, which opened in 2013 at 6781 N. Thornydale Road; and the nearly year-old Dove Mountain Brewing Company, at 12130 N. Dove Mountain Blvd.
The town also has Catalina Brewing Company, a cycling-centric brewery in an industrial area at 6918 N. Camino Martin, off West Ina Road. On Sept. 16, Todd and Erika Button will open Button Brew House not far from Catalina Brewing at 6800 N. Camino Martin.