ABOUT THE TAVERN
Today, Highlands Square is full of funky retail shops and restaurants. In the late 1990s however, this was a pretty run-down neighborhood. El Camino was Al & Pauly's Liquor Store, lovingly decorated with bullet-proof glass, Schlitz Malt Liquor boxes, and lots of grime. Even back in 1999 el Camino’s owner, Grant Gingerich, had a vision, and kept a close eye on the building with hopes of buying it. In May 2002 he was able to do so, and after purchasing the property, the renovations began. The first floor was gutted, the basement was filled in, and 200 square feet was added to where the kitchen is currently located. After the renovation was complete, the doors to Swimclub 32 opened on May 11, 2004.
Swimclub 32 was an upscale wine bar/lounge that embodied worldly class, neighborhood comfort, and exquisite cuisine. After 4 1/2 years and a drastically changing economy, Grant decided to transition into a concept that would embrace the entire community and become more of an everyday home to the neighbors.
Thus el Camino Community Tavern was born.
Over the course of the next several years, what ultimately spurred our growth was the people under our roof that worked there every day. From our kitchen staff to the front of the house, the key to our success was the passion that everyone shared to make sure that we were doing our best to exceed the expectations of our guests. From our food, to our service, we slowly became a place that was favored by our community.
While our menu changes seasonally, and we regularly update our décor, what we have made sure not to change is the level of service and hospitality that our community has come to expect, and the quality of our food, that is made fresh daily from scratch.
The creativity that sparked Swimclub 32 is still present today, and is found in many of the one-of-a-kind handcrafted pieces that fill our space today – mostly created by local artists. Our custom tables are made from recycled rail car wood by Nick Petersen. The bar stools are made from the same wood combined with metalwork by both Brian Mueller and Greg Neel. Sabin Aell created the leaf-shaped glass with aerial pictures printed on them that function as light fixtures, and Randy Rushton crafted the repurposed wooden screens.
We are also very involved with our local schools (Brown, Edison, Skinner, and North), donating food, beverages, and money. We believe that education is something that everyone can get behind, and if we can make a small positive impact in this regard, we will consider ourselves successful. The community around us constantly shows their support and we are more than happy to give back however we can.
Of course none of these custom touches matter without providing the highest level of hospitality that we can. We truly want el Camino to be your favorite place, and if we fall short in that goal, we want to know about it so that we can constantly be growing and improving. Thank you for being a part of our lives and continuing to help make el Camino Community Tavern a success!