- Published: Wednesday, 21 June 2017 22:42
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By Dylan McCament, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON - A few years ago, a local businessman learned about a new method that makes it possible for a restaurant to have an on-site brewery at a relatively low cost.
Now, he's putting the idea into practice in downtown Mount Vernon.
Stein Brewing Company Restaurant & Taproom will open early November in the Woodward Opera House building, according to founder David Stein of Mount Vernon. According to his research, it will be the first brewery to open in the county in over 140 years and only the second that the city has ever seen.
The multifaceted 4,600 square foot business will include a small brewery, a full-service kitchen and a taproom.
Stein Brewing Company pub image - courtesy David Stein
"With most brewers, their passion is beer," he said. "The food part is completely ancillary to what they're trying to do. They want to be the next big brewery. My goal is to make awesome beer to complement the food."
Stein said construction on the business is already underway. Stein Brewing Company Restaurant & Taproom will stretch across 105, 107, 109 and 111 South Main Street. The brewery and restaurant will sell wine and beer (including kegs) while the taproom will serve a wider variety of alcoholic beverages. He said the restaurant and taproom each require a separate liquor license, which sets limits on what can be sold, but added that patrons will be able to order the same menu items anywhere in the business.
"I started getting ideas," Stein said. "I got the idea for the brewery. Then I started thinking that I'd like to do the restaurant. Then I started to think of all the food that I like to eat that I can't necessarily get in Mount Vernon. I kind of rolled all these ideas into one. And the idea keeps morphing."
He said he expects to employ anywhere from 40 to 50 people, including a full time chef and general manager. The brewery/restaurant side will accomodate about 95 people, Stein added, and the taproom should allow for about 50 people at once. He plans to serve American Brew Pub fare including smoked burgers and smoked chicken wings and has over 100 different beer recipes to choose from.
"I've had a vision of a tremendously unique style of brewery restaurant for some time," Stein said. "I have worked very hard trying to find a site and the Woodward building presented itself as an ideal spot."
He said he is working with a leading Canadian brewing company, SmartBrew, to set up the brewing equipment. Stein said the method is twofold: the first half of the process is done off-site and includes the preparation of ingredients so they are "pre-ready."
"The brewing is done on-site," he said. "This helps reduce cost and makes it affordable to implement this concept in a small town. I don't have to make it so expensive that I price the own out of a good craft beer experience."
Stein grew up in Columbus but has lived in Mount Vernon for the last eight years. He said has worked in the hospitality industry and focused on selling beverage dispensers to bars, restaurants and other businesses. SBC will be his first restaurant. In January, he sold his company in Plain City, Ohio and made good on a promise to his wife that his next business venture would be closer to home.
"I wanted to do something local. I've really taken a liking to Mount Vernon. I really enjoy the city," Stein said. "I like the rural communities. They support things. If you support them. They'll support you."
He said he hopes that he hopes open similar brew pubs in multiple locations and eventually turn the concept into franchise. Stein said he wants to cater to "underserved" communities with a population of between 40,000 to 60,000, markets that are too small to attract franchises like a Rooster's or an Old Bag of Nails
"I am really testing my concept." he said. "I think Mount Vernon is probably at the low end in terms of the number of people: I can't do something of this magnitude in a city with a population less than what we have in our town. If I can make it successful here, I can make it successful in plenty of other towns across the country."
Stein said he is grateful for the helpful advice he has received from local officials and members of the business community. He added that he looks forward to reaching out to the community and will give customers the option to donate to local organizations by "rounding up" their tips.