The best strategy for reviving a watering hole shut down for cockroach infestations and allegations cocaine was sold from the location?
Start completely over, says new owner Beth Rich.
At the Broadway Ale House, now named The Commons under the ownership of Rich and her two partners, her ex-husband, Timothy, and their son, there's still 20 beers on tap with a focus on variety. Stella and Blue Moon are served in mason jars along with Stone Double Bastard Ale and Maui Coconut Porter. They pour in two sizes: pints ($5-8) and pints-and-a-half for an extra $2.
The Riches also kept on board general manager Ken Grinde, who was familiar with the business and brews.
"We try to tap what's coming out seasonably first and foremost," Grinde said. "We try to tap things that are coming locally. We try to tap things that people haven't seen before."
They scrubbed the downtown spot clean, ripped out the flooring and repainted, making all of the changes they could that wouldn't require a permit. The Commons opened quietly on Nov. 14 but there's an official grand opening 4-7 p.m. Friday.
"We just wanted to get open," Rich said.
There's some new quirks that will make beer drinkers—especially the kind who would order tallboy Paps Blue Ribbon ($3)—feel at home. Rich said she only plays music on the turntable she's had since she was 18-years-old. Bring in a vinyl, and she'll spin it.
At 129 Broadway, the new space is airy and comfortable with wood tables, a red bar, dark cement floors and big chalkboard menus. The food options are limited to a few handmade snacks.
Karaoke nights will continue every Saturday, but Rich said she's looking to start some new traditions, too, such as hosting trivia nights and instructional tastings for beer novices. There's a beer "bank" for customers who want to pre-pay for a pint for friends or employees.
From Michigan (she relocated to Santa Monica at the end of August), Rich is comfortable with craft brews and says she looks forward to helping make downtown a beer destination. She's settling into her new neighborhood, and though she said she wants to make The Commons more than "just the type of place where you want to hang out," it seems the reborn ale house will more than live up to its new name.