Look Inside the Cohn Restaurant Group's Newest Beer-Centric Restaurant | Draft Republic Brings House-Made Sausage and Craft Beer to La Jolla

Photos by Andrew Jorgensen
December 4, 2014

The grill-you-own steak concept wasn't panning out in La Jolla's UTC area, so the Cohn Restaurant Group recently revamped it's northern most Strip Club and transformed it to the beer-focused Draft Republic, opening its doors on November 14 just across the street from the Westfield Shopping Mall. Featuring innovative American cuisine and 36 craft beers on tap, Draft Republic is a mix of modern Americana design and lively table games with a menu under the direction of Executive Chef Mike Camplin.

“Draft Republic is a place to enjoy a good brew with good friends,” said James Stephenson, Operations Manager for the Cohn Restaurant Group. “Along with an extensive beer focus, we’ve brought on board Executive Chef Mike Camplin to drive the culinary program with an in-house charcuterie focus and delicious gastropub favorites for everyone.”

Originally from New Zealand, Chef Camplin (Mulberry Project, Heartland, Villa Pacri) brings a diverse background to the project - one that has seen him serving at top New York restaurants, mastering whole-animal butchery and producing house-cured meats. At Draft Republic he introduces a crowd-pleasing menu featuring an in-house charcuterie program with a rotating list of house-made sausage. Other menu favorites include the Buffalo Buttermilk Chicken Lollipops, the Brie Burger with onion jam served on a pretzel bun, and the Peppered Skirt Steak Flatbread. Vegetarian guests are well taken care of with options like the Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger and the Chop Chop Salad with kale, brussels, radicchio, broccoli, cabbage, black mission fig, and shaved almonds mixed with feta vinaigrette.

Aptly named Draft Republic, the chef-driven menu is perfectly complemented with an ambitious craft beer lineup. The bar boasts 36 beer taps with a focus on San Diego local breweries in addition to four taps dedicated to house-made kegged cocktails. The full bar also features a diverse wine list and a variety of craft cocktails including beer cocktails and sangria.

Located at the former La Jolla Strip Club, Draft Republic’s completely renovated aesthetic is imagined by Cohn Restaurant Group designer Philippe Beltran (OB Warehouse, BO-beau kitchen + bar, 100 Wines). Evoking a sense of contemporary Americana, Beltran uses a rustic color palette of red, white and blue, and incorporates several oversized art pieces that spotlight patriotism and past U.S. Presidents. The dynamic space also features two living ‘green walls’ and nine fully retractable garage door installations, which open to create an airy, inviting atmosphere. Industrial elements are seen throughout, including handcrafted steel, concrete blocks, corrugated metal, one-of-kind vintage furniture and recycled wood pallets.

Draft Republic has a  neighborhood pub vibe, complete with picnic tables for communal seating and nostalgic table games including foosball, ping pong, shuffleboard, billiards, and darts. Beltran also created a “Think Out Loud” wall - an open space for guests to share comments, thoughts and anecdotes, enabling them to become part of the design themselves.

Draft Republic is located at 4282 Esplanade Court in UTC. For additional information, visit dinecrg.com and feel free to peruse the menus copied below.