Something different is brewing in the Tower District.
The playfully named Goldstein’s Mortuary & Delicatessen, a craft beer bar, opened last week at 1279 N. Wishon Ave., just north of Olive Avenue.
No, it’s not a mortuary. And there’s no deli.
“No bodies. No pastrami. Just beer,” says co-owner Ephiram Bosse.
Goldstein is a nod to a character in the George Orwell novel “1984” and the full name is similar to the doublespeak used in the novel.
But don’t think too hard about that name. In fact, keep an open mind as you read about this place. It’s basically a business opened by two guys who like beer and let their imaginations run wild.
“It is Fresno’s strangest craft beer bar,” Bosse says.
They’re serious about the beer — Goldstein’s has an impressive 45 beers on tap, more on that in a minute — but there’s a lot more going on here, too.
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in the door — and stop dead in your tracks to stare, if you’re like me — is the decor.
There’s a 16-foot boat inside that acts as a table. A giant octopus with a woman’s face is painted along one wall. A metal dragon head named Zurg is flying from the ductwork on the ceiling. And you can set your beer on 55-gallon drums labeled Mobil jet oil.
The 16-foot boat came free from a field and sat in the co-owner’s driveway for six months.
Soon, there will be IV poles equipped with cup holders, “so if you can’t find a table, you can roll around with your beer,” Bosse says.
Most of the visual madness is the work of Craig Johnson. He is a general contractor who owns Craig Johnson Construction and is also an artist. (The art at Goldstein’s is for sale.)
Johnson and Bosse are partners in the business together, as they are with Cafe Van Ness, the little coffee shop at Gazebo Gardens nursery. You may also know Bosse from the former Fresno Brewing Co. on the Fulton Mall.
“When Ephiram said, ‘Hey, do you want to open a bar,’ I thought, this is an opportunity to do something different,” Johnson says. “We just want it to be fun stuff all the time.”
That’s why they hired several workers who are also circus performers, including fire eaters, part of the group Circus Et Cetera. Bosse hints that “weirdness may ensue.”
Golstein’s has a bike rack inside made from an old fence that can hold about 30 bikes.
But back to the beer.
The 45 taps come out of a “big beer machine,” a steampunk-style metal wall with gears and gauges.
One tap has a creepy image of a face in a jar of fluid. That’s Bosse’s face. The beer is called Embalming Fluid and is a hoppy amber ale made by Tioga-Sequoia.
Goldstein’s will feature live music.
It also has a patio out back that hosts food trucks on weekend nights and soon on weeknights. The food truck El Premio Mayor is available for Sunday brunch starting at 11 a.m.
The bar itself is open from 3 p.m. to midnight weekdays and from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.
Plans for downtown
And Bosse isn’t just doing things in central Fresno. He and local educator and actor Kate McKnight are planning some changes at The Downtown Club on Kern Street. They plan to take over the bar and debut The Republican at The Downtown Club in a few weeks.
The name is a reference to the Fresno Republican Printery, the job printing arm of the former Fresno Morning Republican newspaper.
Eventually, the pair will take over the restaurant and food side of the business, too.
And Bosse is planning to open a rooftop bar called the Fire Escape at the Pacific Southwest Building.