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By Lillian Boyd
Most journeys begin at a station.
“It’s where people can come together,” said Keagan Banks. “There’s this excitement and anticipation. There’s hustle and bustle.”
This notion fueled the namesake for Dana Point’s latest watering hole, Station Craft Brewery and Kitchen, to open in the city’s Lantern District off Pacific Coast Highway.
Banks, who earned his business degree from UC Santa Cruz as well as the completion of a London entrepreneurship program, conceptualized the brewery alongside his father, Tom Banks, and co-owner Scott Morrow.
But the concept of a station has been relatively distanced in light of the state’s lockdown in early 2020, a few months after the co-founders had submitted plans to the city in November 2019.
“There were certainly moments where we were like, what are we getting ourselves into?” Banks said. “The three of us have such a firm belief in our vision for this place, and we wanted to push forward. We were confident we could pull it off.”
Banks credits city staff, as well as the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce, for being invaluable resources to the business community. While many businesses have had to proactively or reactively close their doors in light of the pandemic, Dana Point has attracted new business opportunities such as Station Craft.
“Dana Point is ripe with potential as we continue to develop areas like the Lantern District, the Harbor, Doheny and more,” said Vickie McMurchie, executive director for the Chamber. “Despite the year of challenges, companies are continuing to invest in our beautiful, vibrant coastal community. Our quality of life is tremendous.”
Station Craft was designed to be an “elevated brewery,” Banks said, with full-service staff and a space designed by Lindye Galloway, an Orange County-based interior design firm. According to the firm, Station Craft’s indoor experience was created to embody localism with nods to Dana Point and Orange County, balancing California casual with luxury.
Keagan Banks says many of the names of their beers reference local street names, landmarks and city icons. With childhood memories of the Dana Point Harbor and having grown up in neighboring San Clemente, the inspiration is personal.
The Headlands Haze is a hazy IPA with tropical citrus notes, paying homage to the Dana Point Headlands just several blocks away from the brewery. Station Craft’s Spyhopping IPA, created in honor of the 50th Annual Festival of Whales held earlier this month, celebrated the gray whale migration. Portions of that brew will continue to benefit the festival’s foundation.
Customers have 24 beers on tap to choose from (sometimes 26)—with the Sinless Glory Blonde Ale and the Winning Harmonies West Coast IPA being two of the more popular ones. Additionally, customers also have the option to order from the wine or food menu. Banks describes Station Craft’s culinary creations as “California classic” with a bit of a twist, with plates such as the aguachile calamari or Crush Burger (double crushed prime beef with American cheese, Station sauce, lettuce and house-made pickles on a brioche bun).
With partial indoor dining now permitted in Orange County, Station Craft is beginning to ramp up business. Banks remains hopeful that the restaurant industry will come back in full swing as restrictions can potentially ease up in the near future, his optimism exemplifying the original concept of Station Craft: “When you come to a station, you’re just excited and waiting to see what’s next on this journey,” Banks said.
Hours for Station Craft Brewery and Kitchen are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday (opening at 10 a.m. on Saturdays). For more information and to see a full menu of beer, wine and food selections, visit stationcraft.com or visit the brewery at 34150 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point.