History of Gastropubs and Current Trends

Apr 26, 2022

After a long day, a person needs to relax. Having a drink and a good meal usually helps. When someone is too tired or busy to take care of what they need, someone else should handle the preparation. In these circumstances, a restaurant is a good solution.

In the world of restaurants, there is the traditional pub, fine dining, and the gastropub. The combination of a pub with gourmet comfort food defines a gastropub. There are many variations in this type of establishment, but the two main ingredients are that it serves alcohol, and the cuisine is above par. In addition, it may also serve as a community meeting house for special interest groups.


food at a gastropub


Examples of Gastro Pubs

While the oldest gastropubs in America date from the 1600s, the oldest gastropub in the world dates from 803 AD. The impressive St. Peter Stiftskeller in Austria claims the title thanks to documented writings from a “henchman of Charlemagne” who mentions the establishment. With 1,200 years of history, this restaurant is heralded for serving musical composers Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart somewhere in its eleven rooms. Located in Salzburg’s old city, it is part of St. Peter’s Abbey and seats up to 620 guests. Its rare position of being the oldest gastropub in the world offers a unique connection to the past. With elite-level wines and select menu ingredients such as rowanberry, Fromagerie Antony cheese, and melon sage seasoning, the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium provides a unique modern dining experience.

The White Horse Tavern claims the position of the oldest gastropub in America. Built before 1673 in Newport, Rhode Island, William Mayes, a local pirate, acquired its liquor license in 1687 and opened it as an inn. Later, in 1730, family member and tavern owner Jonathan Nichols hung the first White Horse sign. Used as a meeting place for public affairs in the early days, it still operates as a tavern in 2022. Hosting up to 70 people in its three dining rooms, unique menu items such as Duck Scotch Egg seasoned with Honey-Bourbon Aioli keep its rooms full.

As gastropub culture grew, more locations became available. There are many across America today. Modern references to this establishment style are “Gourmet Pub Grub” or “Bars for Food Lovers.” While the architecture may be current, the care and quality of the food and drink compare with the spirit of old-world gastropubs.

Although gastropub restaurants have been in existence for centuries, the term “gastropub” only came into existence in 1991 when David Eyre and Mike Belben, owners of The Eagle in Clerkenwell, London, created the term. Since then, the idea has grown in America. Here are a few examples.

London Gastropub in Monrovia, California, models itself after the old brewpubs in Northern Europe. Featuring Fish and Chips, they also offer Mulitas, Sweet Potato Fries, and Ceviche, menu items geared toward American tastes.

Baoery Asian Gastropub in Orlando, Florida, features fantastic dishes such as PEI Black Mussels in Red Thai Curry and Asian-Style Crispy Chicken Wings paired with a curiously named cocktail, Fists of Fury, while streaming movies on big-screen televisions for customers in their dining rooms.

The Hoppy Monk in San Antonio, Texas, offers Rabbit Tacos Dorados and Stout Chocolate Cake a la mode for dessert. In addition to their exotic menu items, which include a variety of ales, they provide pick-up service and offer e-Gift cards.

Good food. Good drink. Good company. Classic dining is the gastropub’s timeless trend. If you’re looking to expand into the gastropub scene by opening your own concept, please reach out to Synergy!