With its bold, curvy Streamline Moderne architecture, the historic Monarch Building in downtown Medford might be instantly recognizable — but it hasn’t quite been a destination for the community, until now.
Built in 1947, the building was once a former feed store and then the Lithia Motors showroom. But in recent years, it has stood vacant.
Enter Common Block Brewing Company, a family-run brewpub that opened its doors in January after a much-anticipated build-out by Alex and Danielle Amarotico, owners of Standing Stone Brewing in Ashland, just 13 miles south.
“It’s a retro feel,” says Rachel Koning, manager of the 15-barrel brewery, which at full operation will offer 32 taps including 17 beers, 11 wine and sparkling wine, three hard ciders and one cold-brew coffee. Thirteen of the beers are from Oregon, including their own Common Block Pale Ale; they expect to release two or three more house brews by summer.
The elevated pub menu includes inspired fare, with items like beer-braised pork nachos, farmstead pizza with house-made lamb sausage and a quinoa black-eyed pea and mushroom burger for herbivores. A kids’ menu caters to the younger set. The chef, David Georgeson, comes from Larks Restaurant, the French-influenced bistro at the Ashland Springs Hotel.
The food is just part of the vibe. Unlike some other brewpubs, Common Block welcomes children at all hours of the day. It’s a large, inviting space with curves in the walls and mezzanine seating next to the brewery upstairs. Several in-tact garage doors will provide open-air dining in the summertime. Out front, there’s a porch area with a fire pit, in use year-round.
The new space is the latest piece of downtown Medford’s dramatic revitalization over the past five years, in part driven by Lithia Motors, the building owner, as well as the city and other private developers.
There’s now a playground, new stores and landscaping. “There’s more community events happening, which brings people downtown and feels more lively,” Koning says.
When you visit downtown Medford, stay across the street from Common Block at the Inn at the Commons (a former Red Lion Inn under new ownership). Have a cup of coffee at Limestone Coffee Co., grab a quick lunch or wine, cheese and pastries to go at Downtown Market Co., and go for a spin on the Bear Creek Bike Path.
Also stop in at the other beer-fueled destinations in town: BricktownE Brewery, Beerworks bar & bottle shop, and Osmo’s Alehouse, a brand new craft brewery that opened in January with an oatmeal stout, an IPA, an extra-special bitter, a honey nut brown and a freshly tapped farmhouse ale. Figgy’s Food Truck parks outside during evening hours, offering hearty, healthy fare.