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Peculiar Pub set to open on Lakewood Main Street

John Breiner's Peculiar Pub on Lakewood Main Street will offer a large selection of draft beers.
John Breiner's Peculiar Pub on Lakewood Main Street will offer a large selection of draft beers.
Photo by Jay Heater
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River Club's John Breiner was loving retirement.

The Lakewood Ranch restaurateur had come to an agreement to sell his Wolves Head Pizza and Wings in May and he was home with his family, sitting by the pool and barbecuing.

Ahh, the good life. It lasted a whole week.

Breiner's wife, Jackie, has a part-time job and a regular schedule she had formed while her husband worked at the restaurant, so she wasn't available to keep him company, The two twin boys, 21-year-olds Derek and Jason, had to head back to the University of Florida where they are studying to be doctors.

All Breiner's friends, who are about his age of 57, aren't retired yet.

And it was simply too darned hot for Breiner to go out on his own and play golf.

"That second week, reality sunk in," he said. "What am I going to do with myself for the next 20 years?"

Jackie Breiner told him, "You need to get a job."

A "worker" his entire life, his choice was inevitable. He would go back to work.

For much of his life, along with owning and working at restaurants, he would own or work in the construction industry. So he thought he might be a handyman in the area.

Then he saw a listing that Craft Growlers to Go and Tasting Room at 8141 Lakewood Main Street was for sale.

"I had never set foot in the place," he said. "But when I came to see it, it gave me goose-pimples."

Breiner had stepped into what has become his newest venture, the Peculiar Pub.

On Aug. 12, Breiner took a break from painting the interior of his new restaurant to talk about his return to Lakewood Main Street. He is hoping to have a soft opening in the next week.

The restaurant/pub is billed as "bites and brews" and will only serve beer and wine. The menu will be made up of hot pressed and cold sandwiches, hot pretzels, nachos, and gourmet hot dogs.

It will be a place where the patrons can enjoy a quick, reasonably priced meal or snack, along with a few brews. His beer lineup will include 18 Florida craft favorites along with "regular" beer selections such as Budweiser Select, Yuengling, Michelob Ultra, and Stella.

"We're going to have $3 specials and $6 crafts," he said of beer prices.

Asked if he would be selling "Coney" dogs, he replied, "Being from Jersey? Come on!"

That was a big yes.

Peculiar Pub is about 1,400 square feet, down from the 2,500 square feet of Wolves Head, which was down from the 3,200-foot Ed's Tavern, which he founded in Lakewood Ranch in 2008. 

"It's about stress, and life is all about quality of life," he said.

It was in 2008, with the economy headed south, that Breiner was working to open the doors of Ed's Tavern at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch.

"When people were running away, we were doing construction," he said. "It would be 6 p.m. and all the lights were off (on Lakewood Main Street). We were like, 'What did we get into?'"

Ed's Tavern, though, was turning into a hit, and eventually became more than what Breiner wanted to handle with his wife and two young kids at home. He was coaching basketball, baseball and soccer but he felt the need to be around his business until closing, and that could be 1-2 a.m.

For the record, Ed's Tavern had been the name of a business in Breiner's family since the early 1930s. It started as Ed's Grocery in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, before the family moved down the street at open the first Ed's Tavern in 1935. Ed was his great uncle, the late Ed Wilczynski.

When Breiner eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2003, he opened his own Ed's Tavern there, eventually selling in 2008 when he moved to Lakewood Ranch, where he opened another Ed's.

Anyone who knows Breiner understands he has a sense of humor. People would call Ed's Tavern in Lakewood Ranch and ask for Ed.

Breiner would reply, "Ed's dead."

John Breiner, the owner of the new Peculiar Pub on Lakewood Main Street in Lakewood Ranch, previously owned Ed's Tavern down the street.
Photo by Jay Heater

In 2014, Breiner sold Ed's Tavern and bought the smaller space that became Wolves Head Pizza and Wings.

Wolves Head also did well, often seeing its patrons lining up for more than an hour wait.

"You should be careful what you wish for," Breiner said of his success at Wolves Head. "I had more than 50 employees."

He has had success almost every step of the way.

"It takes luck, hard work, and the grace of God to be a huge success," he said. "That's it in a nutshell."

He said owning a business at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch makes him feel like he has come full circle.

Being a worker, he was ready to get back to his painting after talking about his new restaurant. Certainly, he could afford to hire somebody to do the job, but he would rather do it himself. It might be work to most, but he likes it.

"You have to love this business, or it runs you over," he said. "It's a good thing, and a bad thing. I have to be involved.

"And this community has been so great to me and my family. We've made so many great friends. I am super stoked to be back on Main."

Correction: This article has been updated to correct the site of John Breiner's first Ed's Tavern, which was in Charlotte, North Carolina.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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