Food & Drink: A ‘pour’ decision

Trio opens new taproom in downtown Hollister

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From left to right: Jon Cuilla, Joe Nguyen and Nick Donaldson opened a new taproom, Pour Decisions, at 650 San Benito Street in downtown Hollister. (Juan Reyes)

A trio of friends were sitting around one day, toying with the idea of opening a tap room and coming up with a clever name for their brand.

That’s when someone said, “Well, we all make poor decisions” and the three of them howled as the glow from their lightbulbs grew as bright as a full moon.

“As soon as we all said it and kind of chuckled, that was it,” said Jon Cuilla, co-owner of Pour Decisions Taproom in downtown Hollister. “We all laughed together and typically when we all laugh it’s basically all in agreement.” 

On July 24, Pour Decisions Taproom at 650 San Benito Street went from an idea to a full grand opening. Lorenzo Martinez was the first person in line that day and eagerly waited outside until the doors officially opened for business.  

“I think it’s great, it has that 90s look to it and it’s super cool,” he said. “We love beer and it’s always cool to try something new, something that tastes good.” 

Martinez said he’s more familiar with IPA style beers but he is always willing to experiment with new flavors including a sour seltzer he recently tried. 

He said there hasn’t been anything to do lately with the shelter-in-place order, so it was great to get out for once and enjoy a beer at the same time. The Hollister native said he’s also trying to support the local businesses, especially during hard times.

Pour Decisions taproom in downtown Hollister has 32 beers on tap and a various selection of craft beers in a can. (Juan Reyes)

Martinez, who was accompanied by Selene Pereyra, said that having a tap room in town means there’s no more need to travel outside San Benito County.

“Wherever you go you have to go to Gilroy, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Monterey,” he said. “Now that it’s here locally it’s super, super cool.”

Pereyra, who was happy to see kombucha beer was available on the menu, said she also enjoys that she doesn’t have to drive out of town to grab a drink. 

Pereyra said Martinez and herself usually visit various places to try something new but having Pour Decisions around gives them the option to stay in town. She also mentioned that having the outdoor seating area is a bonus because people can still hang out at a safe distance.

“You can still enjoy yourself while still being safe,” she said.    

Martinez said the tap room will not only bring in locals but he can imagine people from out of town who might want to check it out as well.

“It’s just something new and it catches your eye,” he said. “And it has that 90s theme so maybe we might get some of our generation to come here.” 

Cuilla, a 32-year-old Hollister resident, along with partners Joe Nguyen and Nick Donaldson, 37, work in San Jose. Nguyen, 38, said they’re familiar with the beer scene in the area and their plan was simple: bring great tasting beer to Hollister. 

However, the grand opening didn’t come with a smooth pour. Cuilla said they were shooting to open in March but the Covid-19 pandemic forced some construction delays.

Pour Decisions taproom in downtown Hollister has 32 beers on tap and a various selection of craft beers in a can. (Juan Reyes)

Nguyen said the past four to five months have been a downer for 2020.

“The last few months we have had obstacles, challenges,” he said. “Everything that was supposed to go wrong went wrong.”

Prior to that, Cuilla said he studied a “How to Start a Brewpub” book where he learned how to open a restaurant along with brewing his own beer. He mentioned that the brewpub crowd is a unique collective group of people that’s different from the bar scene. 

Cuilla said he doesn’t want to downplay what other businesses are doing but instead he wants to make it so that when people show up at Pour Decisions it’s a unique experience in itself.

“It’s not just going to get some food and get a drink,” he said. “You’re meant to enjoy the entire time from everywhere that you’re looking, every picture that you take, every moment you experience.”

Cuilla said that includes interaction with the staff, the food and, of course, the beer. He wants people to thoroughly enjoy and create a beer society around the downtown area.

“I think we can build it bigger,” he said. 

Cuilla said about 75 percent of the traffic that came through for the soft opening was from out of town and he wants people to see that Hollister is a happening place. He mentioned that Pour Decisions has big time events planned for the future, which might include some Mario Kart video game competitions.

“Out of the box things, we’re going to do events that people wouldn’t even think of,” he said. “We want to take that San Francisco city vibe where you know you can show up and go do something but we want to do that in Hollister.”   

Nguyen said another goal of theirs is to bring business back to downtown and to keep it lively. They set up the tap room to support the community, which means working with the City of Hollister, hiring locals and bringing traffic into downtown. 

Nguyen said in the spirit of being local they support local craft beer. None of the 32 beers on tap are macro brewed, meaning they don’t carry large brewing companies like Budweiser and Coors. Instead, they want to promote microbreweries that are independently or traditionally brewed.

“For us, we want to make sure that the breweries are represented well here,” he said. “We want to make sure that we bring the best of around here and that’s what we support.”

Nguyen said they’re driving all over the Bay Area to pick up their shipments because none of the brewers will ship past Highway 25 or Gilroy. He said they head out every week to meet new potential clients so they can bring in a variety of flavors.

“We’re doing it for this town because we’ve seen a lot of appreciation for ‘Hey, we’ve never seen that before,’” he said. “Just hearing the feedback has definitely made it worthwhile.”

Hours are somewhat flexible right now as they deal with Covid-19 restrictions but they are currently open Friday from 2-9 p.m, Saturday (noon-9) and Sunday (noon-7). 

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