Chris Golub dives into the Swimclub/El Camino switch


After I posted last Friday's blog about the opening of El Camino, I received this note from partner Chris Golub about the new spot, which took the place of his four-year-old Swimclub32:

Howdy Jason!

Thanks for the mention in the blog! I have yet to reach out to you to discuss the new bar because we are in 'soft opening' mode. We want to make sure our recipes, kitchen timing, etc. is tight before we do a grand opening for the city. I am pleased to report that the last
couple of days have gone well -- the neighborhood is really happy with the food and drink and we have doubled our numbers from swimclub32 in the first week of soft opening-koombaya!

I will shout you out shortly when we have our chops down or if you want to know more sooner -give me a ring.



Want to know more sooner?  Uh, yeah, I do. So I dropped Golub a line to see where, exactly, this new turn had come from.

"I am one of those lucky guys, Jason," Golub told me, over a bad cell connection. "I'm one of the guys with the same staff in the kitchen." That would be the staff he opened Swimclub with four years ago, which stuck with him through the confusing concept change this summer that almost turned the place into a New York-style pizza parlor. But at the last minute, he explained, the planned change was stymied by the credit crunch and the pulling of a huge bank loan earmarked for equipment and remodeling.

Luckily, two of the guys who've been with him since the first months of Swimclub are originally from the Yucatan. These are the guys who cooked most of the staff meals in the house, who helped out during a couple of tequila dinners when the food was such a hit that Golub's friends and regulars demanded it be added to the menu. And now, these are the guys who, along with Golub, have come up with the menu for El Camino, Swimclub's new incarnation.

"This isn't a restaurant," Golub insisted.  "It's a bar.  It's a joint."  The wine room is gone, replaced by a ten-tap beer system giving out MGD and Genny Cream Ale.  And where one of the complications with Swimclub had always been the disconnect between the fun, approachable neighborhood spot that Golub and partner Grant Gingerich wanted and the special occasion, fancy-dress spot that people thought it was, there will be no such confusion with El Camino. No one is going to mistake this place for one where you have to be done up in your party duds just to get through the door. Not with the cheap margs and hot-pink exterior, they won't. Not with the beer can chandeliers (made from Golub's father's collection of beer cans from across the country).

 And even though the place is still in "soft open," as Golub insists, it's already getting talked about.  Hell, I've written about it twice now in 72 hours.  And I haven't even been there.

Yet. -- Jason Sheehan

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