RIP Ol’ Factory Cafe

Last night, I met some friends at the Ol’ Factory Cafe for one last beer. After months of trying to stay afloat, Ol’ Factory Cafe finally closed for good. Instead of mourning the demise of the only beer bar on the Monterey Peninsula or go into the establishment’s well-documented problems (maybe too well-documented), I would like to take this moment to celebrate the life of the  Ol’ Factory Cafe.

My last beer at Ol Factory Cafe
My last beer at Ol' Factory Cafe

Since moving back here in 1994, we searched for a pub to replace Barclay’s, our local in Oakland. We frequented a number of pubs but they were always missing something. There were the friends, the good times but not the ‘WOW’ beer selection.

I can still remember my first visit to OFC. I had seen an Ol’ Factory ad in the local weekly touting their great beer selection. I quickly popped in after a Costco run to see what brews they had to offer. Seeing the selection, I immediately called Merideth and told her that we needed to go there that night. It was love at first beer and we quickly became regulars. OFC was the place we had been seeking all those years.

The best beer selection on the Monterey Peninsula

Soon after our first visit, we met the owner, Morgan Christopher. We had known of Morgan from his coffee days in Monterey but never had met him in person. Very likable, we were immediately impressed by his passion for good beer. In us, he saw people who could help him make Ol’ Factory the beer destination on the Monterey Peninsula. Soon, we were hosting our beer tastings at OFC. And over time, we became friends.

It wasn’t only beer geeks who congregated at OFC. For many people on the Monterey Peninsula, it was THE gathering place. Coffee fiends, musicians, artists, students, liberals of many varieties and Sand City locals all found a home at Ol’ Factory. My favorite was the knitters, a group who would hang out and… knit.

Hanging out with friends
Hanging out with friends

We met most of our Monterey Peninsula beer friends at OFC. Some came to one of our beer tastings; others we just struck up a conversation with over a pint. Walking up to the bar one day I overhead a couple discussing whether they wanted another Green Flash West Coast IPA. I thought they must be our kind of people so I started chatting with them. After about 20 minutes I returned to Merideth, who wondered what had happened to me. I told her about this couple, Billy and Kristin, who are our good friends today.

Inauguration night at Ol Factory
Inauguration night at Ol' Factory

It all came together on my birthday in January which also happened to be Inauguration Day. A huge crowd, all of Ol’ Factory’s many groups, gathered to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration. We partied and danced (others danced… not me) the night away. We still talk about that January night… those of us who can remember it.

Other great Ol’ Factory memories include:

  • Pouring our Sierra Nevada beer, Nuthin’ in Common
  • Meeting Ken Grossman for the first time
  • Christmas day
  • Merideth in her dirndle at the Oktoberfest party

What will we do now? Probably watch a lot of DVDs at home with a roaring fire and the pups. And wait for Morgan to land on his feet again.

4 Replies to “RIP Ol’ Factory Cafe”

  1. What will you do now? Let all those folks in Monterey County with too much money and nothing to do know that a beer bar can be a success. There’s too much appreciation for good food and drink on the Monterey Peninsula for there to not be a good beer bar again, and soon.

    Wednesday, 7 pm at the Duck for a pint?

  2. What a sad day for all of you. That place was a lot of fun. Hopefully you’ll find a new place to hang out that has good beer.

  3. Clandestine beer geeks Jon and Becky here. Our favorite Ol’ Factory moment was the night of the McCain/Obama debate – the one where “Joe the Plumber” became a household name. Morgan was walking around handing out ping pong balls to everyone so that we may throw them when we had jeers for either candidate. Most jeers on this night were towrds McCain. We all started counting how many times the words “Joe the Plumber” were uttered in the whole debate. It was well over 1 dozen. Great lifelong memory that evening. We also enjoyed bringing in the occasional Couroc tray donation for behind the bar. RIP OFC.

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