Two restaurants affiliated with Bubba Brew’s Brewing Company have opened recently in Hot Springs, one just last week.
Bubba Brew’s on Lake Hamilton opened Oct. 13, more than a year after ground was broken at the site.
Owners Nancy and Jayson “Bubba” Bass opened the first Bubba Brew’s on Norris Lake in Maynardville, Tennessee, in 2009, but jumped at the chance to return to Hot Springs, their hometown, to open Bubba Brew’s in Bonnerdale, which also houses Bubba Brew’s Brewing Co.
“We always wanted to come home,” says Nancy Bass.
The newest Bubba Brew’s location is 8,000 square feet and can be accessed by land or water. The menu includes burgers, wings, pizzas and the like, and the venue offers live music every Friday and karaoke every Saturday.
“We have 30-35 televisions,” Bass says of the newest location. “We have two full bars. Our second floor is all 21 and up only, and the bottom floor is all family atmosphere. And we’re right on the lake.”
Bubba Brew’s Brewing Co. Spa City Taproom, which opened just last week in the former Bank of America building in downtown Hot Springs, is a venture of Jonathan Martin, owner and original brewmaster of Bubba Brew’s Brewing Co., and his partner, Ned Bass, Jayson “Bubba” Bass’s father.
Martin had been a homebrewer for 15 years before he and Bass opened the brewing company in 2014.
“Up until three weeks ago, every batch of beer that’s been brewed out there I’ve done myself,” says Martin.
The taproom has a different atmosphere than the sports pubs.
“It’s very much a pub/tavern feel. We have a lot of leather and wood and it’s very warm and comfortable and inviting. There are a couple of lounge areas with couches in addition to the table seating and barstools,” says Martin. “The others have – especially the one on the lake has – more of a sports bar feel. They’ve got a ton of TVs and the neon lights. Ours is more understated. We’ve got a couple of TVs behind the bar but we haven’t even turned them on since we opened.”
The taproom’s executive chef, Nathan Packlain, brings with him experience as a private chef in Arkansas as well as restaurant experience from Sonoma, California.
“Pretty much everything – about 95 percent – is scratch-made. We mix our own burger meat, we bread and make our own beer batter with the beer that we make here for the fish and chips, our tartar sauce and almost all of our salad dressings are house-made. We have a lot of really fantastic kale salad that you can add salmon to that’s something you really don’t see around Hot Springs,” says Martin. “We do a couple of different charcuterie boards that have gotten a lot of attention the last few days that feature three to four different kinds of cured meats and some cheeses and olives and peppers and stuff like that and we’re still playing with the menu and adding and subtracting as we find out what works and what people are interested in.”
Just like at Bubba Brew’s on Lake Hamilton, there is the potential for live music both inside and outside at the taproom, though Martin expects to have more subdued sounds, like acoustic or acoustic blues, to fit the mood of the restaurant.
This is a first foray into the restaurant management business for Martin, who is also a practicing attorney.
“I have a handful of select clients that I’ve worked with over the years and my office hours are about 12 to 15 a week,” he says. “Most of my work is transactional. I do a lot of real estate development contracts and that type of stuff, so it’s not court-related so I can kind of do it when I have time availability at the restaurant. I wear a lot of hats.”
Photos courtesy of Bubba Brew’s Brewing Company