The lively culinary scene in downtown Paso Robles gained a new addition when The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar opened in June on 13th Street.
Armed with the slogan “Good food, good drinks, down the hatch,” owners Eric Connelly and Maggie Cameron have put their own touches on an existing restaurant space within the historic Granger’s Union building. An exposed brick wall, wooden floors and high ceilings help create an atmosphere with an inviting blend of rustic chic and urban sleek.
The bar itself is also an integral part of the restaurant’s convivial ambiance. Instead of a traditional setup that finds bar patrons sitting side by side, Connelly and Cameron went with a gentle zigzag design that puts people more face-to-face.
“It really encourages conversation across the whole bar,” noted Connelly.
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Though this is their first restaurant, both Connelly and Cameron have considerable front-of-the-house hospitality experience. Connelly worked as a server, certified sommelier and manager at various local restaurants, and helped open Michael Mina’s RN74 restaurant in San Francisco. Cameron, a certified wine specialist, worked in several capacities at Justin Vineyards & Winery in Paso Robles, where the couple met.
What they needed to complete their vision for The Hatch was a talented chef to manage the kitchen. They found him in Mateo Rogers.
A 10-year veteran of the Los Angeles restaurant scene, Rogers enrolled in the culinary program at the Art Institute of California in Santa Monica to gain a solid grasp of the basics. After that, he said, “I just threw myself into kitchens.”
Rogers was working as a culinary consultant when he noticed a Craigslist ad for a chef at a yet-to-be-opened restaurant in Paso Robles. Since he had family in the area, he answered the ad, and — after conducting his cooking interview in Connelly’s and Cameron’s home kitchen — he joined The Hatch team while the menu was still in development.
Wood-fired rotisserie meats and comfort food were always going to be part of The Hatch concept, Connelly explained. The rest of the menu emerged with a slightly Southern twist.
You can order pimento cheese and butter beans, hoecake and hooch cake, as well as shrimp and grits and “Hatch puppies,” as hushpuppies are known there. However, Rogers is quick to note that “this isn’t a Southern restaurant.”
The Hatch is, however, a restaurant with a one-ton rotisserie in the room.
The menu always features roasted chicken, plus daily spit specials Monday through Thursday such as tri-tip, baby back ribs and lamb.
The rotisserie is also utilized for such dishes as a roasted beet salad, fire-grilled chicken wings and roasted bone marrow; the latter will be part of the new seasonal menu.
“We want to keep everything as fresh as possible, and source a lot from local farmers and producers,” Rogers said.
In an approach that defies the scale of the 200-square-foot open kitchen, he said, “We’re also making everything in-house except the bread (which is from Pan D’Oro Bakery in San Luis Obispo). We’re making our ketchup, our hot sauce, and even house pickles.”
That philosophy extends to the bar program run by Matt Toevs and executed by an enthusiastic team that relishes serving you the perfect beverage. In addition to a focused beer and wine list, available on tap and in bottles, there are craft cocktails that feature housemade syrups and spirits from several local distilleries such as Re:Find Handcrafted Spirits and Wine Shine.
That local aspect is important to Connelly and Cameron, who are both quick to note that they’ve received considerable support from the community.
“We want this to be a locals’ joint,” Cameron said. “We want people saying to their friends ‘We’re going to The Hatch — you should check that place out!’ ”
The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar is one of several restaurants participating in San Luis Obispo County’s Restaurant Month in January. For more information, go to visitsanluisobispocounty.com/restaurant-month.
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at email@example.com.
The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar
835 13th St., Paso Robles (between Park and Pine streets)
221-5727 or hatchpasorobles.com
Hours: Cocktail hour 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; late-night dining 10 p.m. to midnight Friday through Saturday; closed Sunday.
The scene: A convivial downtown spot with an inviting mix of rustic and urban touches.
The cuisine: Wood-fired ingredients, rotisserie meats and from-scratch fare served with a bit of a Southern twist.
Expect to spend: Salads, shared plates $7 to 13; entrées $15 to 30.