“What can I get you young man?” beckons a voice from behind the bar. Searching for a tap board and giving up, I scan the tap handles. “Can I get a Sierra Nevada “oh-vulla”? “Oh, you mean the “oh-Veela?” “Yeah, that’s the one…is that the Saison with mandarin and peppercorn?” “Yep.” He slides a snifter over with one finger, head creeping to the top, “enjoy my friend.” I sip and gleam about, taking in the afternoon, pretending to check my phone while listening to nearby conversations and jokes, trying my hardest not to laugh.
Hollingshead’s Deli reminds me of a sitcom in the 80’s filmed live in front of a studio audience. One foot through the door and the stage is set to a small family deli circa 1965 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Cheese heads, beer signs and Favre newspaper clippings flutter about as the door jangles open. The deli counter in back assembles sandwiches and salads like mom used to make. The green and gold themed bar back is filled with personalized dimpled pint glasses; a true mark of a place that regulars love.
Biting into a violet colored pickled egg, I ask Kenny — the second generation owner — about the business’ 50th anniversary party this Saturday. Wait, 50th? Did they really open in 1963?
“Yep, it’s going to be real special. Breweries are bringing something unique for the occasion.” “When did you get into the beer biz?” I ask. “In the late 80’s when Mr. Straub (of Straub Distributing) told my dad (Ken Sr.) beer is going to be the next big thing in beverages. He sold us twelve cases of imports and said, “I’ll be back in two weeks and whatever doesn’t sell, I’ll pay you cash.” We sold out of everything and never looked back. It’s been a fun ride! All the local places coming onto the scene making exceptional beer has made it even better.”
In the mid-90’s Hollingshead’s was one of the first customers of Vinnie Cilurzo of then Blind Pig Brewing in Temecula. Although Vinnie has moved on to much bigger things, Russian River is still one of Hollingshead’s main draws. Pliny the Younger release day has a line around the corner, and many of RR’s beers can be found on tap regularly. “Natalie Cilurzo was just here last week to pay us a visit and to wish us a happy anniversary,” adds Kenny.
Their 50th Anniversary is being celebrated on August 24th from noon to 5 p.m. With only 200 tickets available at $50 a pop, I’m sure it will sell out. They’ll be doing appetizers, ribs, cake and of course unlimited special beer donated from various breweries. “We even got to blend a special Stone Brewing Mixtape for the party, it tastes incredible,” notes Kenny.
With over 500 bottles of import and craft beer plus 22 taps, Hollingshead’s Deli is where it all started in Orange County. With their old school vibe and dedication to customer service and selection, I’m sure they’ll be around for another fifty! Cheers!
Contact Hollingshead’s Deli at 714-978-9467 for tickets, sandwich/catering orders, or just to say hi.
Bonus quote: “When your article is up, make sure and fax it to me” – Kenny Hollingshead. I plan on doing so – fax # 714-978-9594