While Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen — which opened in the Hotel Californian complex on April 9 — offers the slogan “Craft beer spoken here,” it nearly needed something closer to “All about béarnaise.”
“To the credit of [Hotel Californian] owner Michael Rosenfeld, he was thinking a high-end steakhouse should go in this spot but then decided the project needed a more casual option for locals,” explains Greg Finefrock, the man behind Finney’s. “He thought it best to have a gastropub in here to connect with the breweries and wineries in the Funk Zone.”
Finefrock was the man for that. He opened the first Finney’s in Westlake Village (where he lives) 18 months ago, a culmination of a 20-year background in the business — he was one of the first franchisees for Baja Fresh in Los Angeles, for example. Since his brother and parents live in Santa Barbara, this second location was a logical step for what he envisions as a small chain.
The heart of Finney’s is the beer. “We have 30 core beers, and we’ll switch out half a dozen every two to three months,” he said. “They’re all from California, half from Santa Barbara County. We really have a local beer list, same with our wines and spirits.” That beer is curated into helpful types, from Light to Fruity to Hoppy to Hoppier to Tastier to Malty, with hometown faves from Figueroa Mountain, Telegraph, Captain Fatty’s, M.Special, and Draughtsmen, but also reaching up and down the coast for Modern Times, Knee Deep, and more.
“We’ve got to serve the beer the way it’s supposed to be served, with proper glassware and at the proper temperature,” Finefrock insisted. “The lines also need to be cleared every two weeks. I think most people don’t do that. It can get a lot built up.”
Finney’s is keenly focused on the gastro part as well. Finefrock hired Eric BosRau, with 20 years of experience at Duke’s of Malibu, as corporate executive chef. “The goal was to provide a high-quality dining experience for a low price,” he explained. “The guests can taste the difference and not get hit too hard in the pocketbook.” All sauces, dressings, and pizza doughs are made in-house daily, and the pastrami comes from RC Provision, where the famed Langer’s Deli gets theirs. “Now you don’t have to go all the way to L.A. for that,” quipped Finefrock.
That menu — from that pastrami and pizza to buffalo cauliflower, a house burger of chuck, brisket, and hangar steak, and perhaps the first sighting of the trendy veggie Impossible burger in town — is to blame for 70 percent of Finney’s early sales coming from food and just 30 percent from the bar. Finefrock assumed the opposite ratio.
“Without the food, we’d just be a cool gastropub,” he said. “But the recipes that Eric came up with set us apart.”
35 State St., Ste. A; (805) 845-3100; finneyscrafthouse.com