Dunagan Irish Pub & Brewery opening in Gig Harbor
When Jesse Dunagan opens Dunagan Irish Pub & Brewery in Gig Harbor sometime this spring, his five-year-old brewery will triple in size and he’ll add a live music venue and restaurant.
“It is so much bigger than my first brewery,” said Dunagan last week when I checked on his move across the Narrows from downtown Tacoma. “My old place was 1,500 square feet and this new place is over 4,000 square feet. I have put so much work into it. The woodworking, it’s something else. It’s quite amazing.”
Local brew lovers will know Dunagan as the brewer and owner of Dunagan Brewing Co., which he operated from November 2015 to November 2020 in downtown Tacoma at 1126 Commerce.
Dunagan is a Foss High School graduate and native Tacoman. His extended family members live in the area and are helping him with the project. He started thinking about moving his original Tacoma brewery a few years ago. “The original brewery was really small, there’s no room to grow. I started having to Tetris things into that place,” he said.
His new sprawling spot is steps away from the The Inn at Gig Harbor and Heritage Distilling. Locals will know the new Dunagan space as the longtime home to Tanglewood Grill, and O’Neill’s more recently. Real old timers will recall when it was Jekyll & Hyde’s Pub.
Dunagan is hoping for a spring opening, but that timeline, as always, depends on the permitting timeline.
As he did with Dunagan’s Tacoma location, Dunagan is making vast changes to the interior of Dunagan Irish Pub & Brewery in Gig Harbor.
THE SPACE HAS CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY
Those dated log-lined walls are gone. Dunagan stripped the walls down to the old wallpaper from Jekyll & Hyde’s (he described it as true to the decor era, and pretty hideous). With help from family, he has installed wainscoting. They’ve also added custom stained glass throughout the space. Dunagan said, “The middle of the building is a giant skylight with a 35-feet ceiling in there. When the natural daylight comes in, it washes everything with light.”
One element that did remain is the river rock fireplace, which Dunagan has opened up to be more accessible. “You can walk around the whole fireplace now,” said Dunagan.
He also shifted the footprint of the space.
“The bar divided the space in half,” he said. “The area that was the bar is now going to be the brewery. The bar that was there has been removed and the whole thing is flipped around.”
That bar area will now hold Dunagan’s three-barrel brew system he used at his Tacoma brewery. The old bar top was ripped out and a new bar top installed that has an interesting story. It’s made from all the tables from the original Dunagan Brewing.
“I took all the tables from the original pub that I made. We planed them down and put them all together (at a local woodworker’s shop). It’s a 20-foot-long bar. It’s dovetailed and sliced together, it looks so cool. Thousands of pints of beers have already been on that bar. All the little dings and dents, we filled with sparkling green epoxy.”
“We’ve totally remodeled the inside and it looks completely different. There’s a lot of handmade sculptures and carvings. I’ve incorporated a lot of the original Tacoma pub in there, from the railings to the stained glass to the tables turned into the bar. A lot of the original woodwork from the original pub, we brought over. It has a lot of history in it already and we’ve only started,” he said.
DINING ROOM WILL BE FAMILY FRIENDLY
The main dining area will be family friendly with seating for 38. The new 21+ lounge area will seat 31 with an additional 16 at that new bartop. They also will have a dozen outdoor seats.
There will be 20 taps with local brews represented alongside Dunagan beers. “We’re going to have a large selection of Irish whiskeys and scotch. We’ll have over 20 taps. We’ll have one tap devoted to mead. We’ll have some ciders. We’ll have normal Irish pub beers on tap. Slightly over a quarter of the taps will be my brewery taps. I’ll have local craft beers on tap, as well. It’ll be a big selection. We’re updating all the lines right now.”
THERE WILL BE A FULL MENU AT DUNAGAN
Dunagan described the food as a mashup of American pub and Irish pub food. “It’s hearty, it’s modest. You’re going to be able to come in and have an entree and a pint and leave for under $20. And you won’t leave hungry. It’s wholesome, unpretentious food like shepherd’s pie, Scotch eggs, corned beef and cabbage.”
He added, “We’ll have some American food like burgers and fish and chips.”
He noted, “It’s a continuation of the culture of the original brewery. Everything’s handmade. We’ll even be making our bread on site.”
FUTURE PLANS FOR A MUSIC FESTIVAL, WITH LIVE MUSIC RIGHT AWAY
The pub will embody every aspect of Irish culture, including the music. Expect live performances at Dunagan. “We’re going to have a stage,” Dunagan said. “We’ve got an old piano that’s 100 years old in there.”
He also has future plans for an Irish music festival. “I want to build a music venue like Galway Bay. It’s a pretty well known Irish pub in Ocean Shores. They put on an annual Irish music festival and folk music. I want to bring one to this region as well.”
He said it’s just an idea at this point, but with the big parking lot they have and the neighboring hotel, the elements are there to support a music festival when large gatherings happen again. “The groundwork is getting laid. It’s something that I’m really hoping we can get together in the future.”
VISIT TACOMA’S FIRST MEADERY TAP ROOM
Did you catch my story about Kvlt Mead, which just opened in South Tacoma? You can read all about it here.