Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub closes after almost 30 years in East Bay

Ciecie Chen/Staff

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Barclay’s Restaurant and Pub in Downtown Berkeley closed this month after nearly three decades of business in the East Bay.

Barclay’s moved to its location on Shattuck Avenue last year after the owners of the pub’s original location in Rockridge refused to negotiate a new lease. Barclay’s owner Gene Bromstead made the decision to close voluntarily, according to his nephew and Barclay’s manager Derek Bromstead. But Derek Bromstead said increased competition and struggles with re-establishing in a new location made maintaining the pub difficult.

“When (my uncle) basically was pushed out of the old place, I saw a change in him,” Bromstead said. “Before, Barclay’s was his passion, his life’s work. … I could see the pain when he had to sign everything over to the new owners. … I just think he couldn’t recover from it.”

According to Bromstead, Barclay’s struggled to adapt to its new location and could not maintain its Rockridge regulars. Bromstead said the popularity and number of new craft breweries in the area made it difficult to maintain a crowd of consistent customers.

“I think there needed to be a bit more evolution or transition at the new place that just didn’t happen,” Bromstead said. “There’s certainly a lot more competition. The craft beer scene is exploding. There’s lots of choices, and a lot of people like to see what’s new.”

Bromstead called Barclay’s “an institution for craft beer lovers.” According to Bromstead, as one of the area’s first craft-beer-focused pubs, Barclay’s often attracted aspiring brewers. Barclay’s beer club featured almost 4,000 beers and accrued 6,000 members over the decades.

Some of Barclay’s patrons took to Facebook to share their feelings about the pub closing.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out,” said Tim Taylor on “Barclays Resurgents,” a page maintained by Barclay’s regulars. “I had been going to Barclays almost since it opened. Gene is almost like family to me.”

Bromstead said he does not yet know what his or his uncle’s plans are for the future. In the meantime, he and his wife, who also worked at Barclay’s, plan to relax and come to terms with the pub’s closing.

The pub attracted a tight-knit crowd of regulars, some of whom had been coming around since Barclay’s first opened in 1991. Bromstead said he’ll miss the restaurant’s friendly and intimate atmosphere.

“One of the big things that was different about Barclay’s is the personalities and the characters that evolved over the years,” Bromstead said. “People had nicknames. It was kind of like a big family. It came back to being a part of something bigger than themselves. And it was fun. It was just a fun place to be.”

Contact Sam Levin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.