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Incoming: Bantam's Roost

The owners of Flying Pig Pub + Kitchen are opening a spinoff in Bressi Ranch


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Aaron and Roddy Browning, owners of The Flying Pig (pictured) are opening a new restaurant in Bressi Ranch in 2019 | Photo: Sam Wells

Malls got your message. The one you sent about the long-term effects of the soul chafing you’ve suffered at the hands of national chain restaurants. We understand why malls did what they did. When you’re investing hundreds of millions into a retail center, you need to pick your tenants carefully. You need to know they’re going to be open for business and paying rent. Their success is your success. And national chains pay rent. Big rent. Because they have big bank accounts. They have offshore-account stuff.

The little people? The people who live down the road and have a vested interest in their neighborhood? They tend not to be as rich or rent-stable. Their indie restaurants die more.

But now, we the people have demanded the little guys. The faceless chain restaurant is the Zima, the indie restaurant the casked ale. The chain restaurant is the boy band the record label put together through market research; the indie restaurant is the songwriter who played her heart out until people listened and learned the words to her songs.

All this is to say: The team behind Flying Pig is going to make a mall in Bressi Ranch cooler. The Flying Pig team comprises many more people than married owners Aaron and Roddy Browning—but it starts with them. They duct-taped together a cool bistro in Oceanside when Oceanside’s dining options were somewhere between ouch and zilch. They funked up Vista with their second location, serving delicious pork over creamy polenta among rusted farm equipment. And now they’re bringing a spinoff, Bantam’s Roost, to the upcoming Bressi Ranch neighborhood.

“A bantam is a small chicken with a big attitude,” says Roddy. “My wife’s grandparents had a henhouse when she was growing up and they called it Bantam’s Roost. Our partner is Alex Kleinman, who worked for me forever and got into craft beer, and knows how to operate a restaurant and take care of his people. It’ll look similar to the Pigs. We have an original funk about us. But we’ll dress it up a hair. A little neater and cleaner.”

Bantam’s will be a 1,450-square-foot joint with a 700-square-foot patio. It’ll be counter service, serving the same gourmet, kinda-sorta-Southern, seasonal comfort food that’s made the Pigs a local standout. They’ll have 20 taps of craft beer, plus wine you can’t buy at the BevMo across the street. “It’ll focus on the local stuff,” Roddy says. “The big guys don’t need my money. The local guys do.” They’ll also put in their application to win the full liquor license lottery.

For an idea of what Bantam’s Roost will be like, Roddy points to his inspiration—Industrial Eats in Buellton, California (“It’s awesome,” he says).

It’s also a sign of the coming decade for California restaurants. As operators crunch the numbers and try to afford doing business as the minimum wage increases, counter service is the glaring answer.

“The whole waiter service thing is gonna go away,” Roddy says. “We just can’t afford to pay a busser, hostess, bartender, server, and a food runner. Our customers just don’t want to pay for it.”

If all goes well, Bantam’s Roost will open in March.

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