Urge Common House: Eater-tain Your Heart Out
URGE Gastropub, The Common House, Embraces Good Food & Entertainment
Urge Gastropub Common House
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The newest location of Urge restaurants—the chain that’s not really a chain—is the third in the brand’s repertoire and thrives in a bustling university neighborhood in San Marcos. In addition to the original Urge American Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo and Urge Gastropub and Whiskey Bank in Oceanside comes Urge Common House, a distinct new flavor in the restaurant trio.
Urge co-founder Grant Tondro describes the concepts as siblings––they’re all clearly related, but in no way identical triplets. Each location is unique, with enough difference in menu options and décor to give guests a new experience at each place. But the San Marcos location in particular is outdoing itself (and likely every competitor in the vicinity) as it embraces the idea of eater-tainment.
At Common House, guests find more than great food and beer. It’s a multi-faceted experience that combines the best of social activities and entertainment with a traditional dining affair. For starters, this place has a brewery. Joining the ever-expanding craft beer market in San Diego is Urge’s special brewing division, Mason Aleworks. The in-house brewery began at the Oceanside location in 2015. Since then, Mason Aleworks has had a whirlwind year and a half of success, launching into draft-only distribution in San Diego in March of last year.
The brewery keeps four core beers on tap year-round that encapsulate a range of flavors. There’s a coffee stout, a Red IPA, a white ale and a traditional, West Coast-style IPA to appeal to all palates. Those four are primarily brewed in San Marcos, while the seasonal, creative one-offs are brewed at the Oceanside location. All beers are then distributed between each of the three Urge locations, so no matter which you visit, you can always taste what’s brewing currently.
The massive complex that houses Urge also features three different bars, two private dining rooms, a huge patio with fire pit-embedded banquet tables, two bocce ball courts, outdoor games like life-size Jenga and a partitioned dining room that stretches nearly the entire length of the warehouse building. At almost 21,000 square feet, there’s enough room for large groups of friends, plus elbow room. Topping off Urge’s unique design is a bowling alley with The Big Lebowski decor.
The sheer size of the place is a feat, but the masterminds behind the concept divide the space expertly. The focus on activities is all part of the guest experience and creating a sense of community. The Common House aims to be your destination of choice, somewhere between home and work where you can relax and hang out. Grant Tondro and his two business partners Zack and Nate Higson struggled at first when they encountered the large, airy, empty space.
“The deal with the developer was that we had to take the whole building,” Tondro says. “We thought it was way too big, and we were never going to fill it. So how could we come up with something to utilize this space so we can afford the rent on this thing? We threw all this stuff in there, but people end up coming and staying for like, five or six hours sometimes. They’re just having a really good time.”