A festive atmosphere pervaded the opening of El Cerrito's only brewpub Thursday as patrons flocked to try the hometown beer and artisan food menu.
The on San Pablo Avenue near the found every table taken at lunch and patrons enthusing over the fare.
"It was delightful!" exclaimed a smiling Emily Hradec of Richmond after finishing lunch.
"I had the shepherd's pie," she said. "...And the potato and parsnip mash on top of the ground beef was to die for."
For a beverage, she sampled the pub's stout, which she pronounced excellent.
While Hradec's first words were about the food, Gary Larsen of Berkeley began with the beer.
"I had all three of their beers," he said. "They're all good beers."
"But," he added, "they serve them too cold. I'm a room-temperature beer drinker."
"My only complaint," he added, "is that the prices are a little high."
Hradec said she found the pub "a little noisy."
Among those posting comments on the pub's Facebook page yesterday and last night was Leslie Mesones, who wrote one word: "Awesome!"
Angela Brandt posted, "The beer was delicious, the burger, steak, and fish were perfect and service was excellent. We had a really nice time. Great job on opening night!"
The pub's genesis began last year when three former co-workers at Berkeley's Pyramid Brewery — David Goodstal, Kayvan Sabeghi and Brian Kelly — showed up as partners in a new business called Elevation 66 and began work in the empty storefront at 10082 San Pablo Ave., two doors north of Cerrito Theater.
In November, Goodstal, the head brewer, that they hoped to open in February. The date kept getting pushed back as various licenses and permits proved more difficult to obtain than expected. Public anticipation seemed to swell as word spread.
"We're very excited that they're open," said El Cerrito Assistant City Manager Karen Pinkos, who was seated at a large table in the pub with several other city employees at lunch Thursday. "It's wonderful to have another new business in El Cerrito."