SOMERVILLE, NJ – Everyone but the brewmeister will be working Tuesday at Village Brewing Company.
Just two months away from drawing the first mug of "Somerville Red" and other craft beers brewed on the premises, the owners of what will be the largest micro-brewery in Somerset County were busy Tuesday making sure that plumbers, painters, masons and other workmen didn't get in the way of one another.
The micro-brewery at 34 West Main St. will be the centerpiece of a restaurant, taproom, and entertainment emporium that will open at the former location of the Somerville Antiques Center, which had taken over the space of the former Woolworth's department store on Main Street, built in the 1960s..
Village Brewing Company will serve seasonal craft beers and progressive American-style cuisine, according to Iris Frank, co-owner and director of business development and banquet services and events.
Tuesday's work list includes:
- Installation of the elevator;
- Installation of the bar, which was delivered Monday;
- Ongoing sheet rock and tiling work;
- Painting of the walls will get under way.
- HVAC and duct work installation will continue;
- Plumbers will begin to install pipes;
- Work will also start on the assembly and connections for the boilers and other brewing equipment.
There's also the possibility that a crane will be at the location to lower heating and air conditioning units on to the roof of the building.
The 8,500-square-foot space will feature a 190-seat upscale casual restaurant and a 50-seat bar and tap room with a $500,000 kitchen and glass enclosed brew house. Large stainless steel brewing kettles and fermentation tanks and exposed duct work will add to the industrial chic décor.
Downstairs will be the Village Square, a performing arts center, banquet and event room with a capacity for 270 people, according to Gary Frank. CEO.
Frank and his partners - sister, Iris; Scott Eadie general manager and Sunny Punj, acting CFO, are spending $4 million on the renovation of the building and are leasing the space from building owner James Cavanaugh, who owns two popular destination bars in Morristown, the Iron Bar and Revolution.
Gary Frank is acting as project manager directing the interior construction of the restaurant and brew house. A mechanical contractor, Frank has a long history of building breweries, among other large projects.
Seasonal menus will include locally-sourced ingredients for a farm-to-table atmosphere and a selection of eight to ten in-house brewed craft beers will change monthly. Gary Frank said the operation will make every effort to work with local farmers, providing hundreds of pounds of grain used in the brewing process to farmers to feed livestock.
Wine and spirits will also be served.
The owners are building a pre-opening list of micro-brew aficianados, offering silver, gold and platinum memberships ranging from $100-$1,000 on an annual basis. Further information is available on the website, www.villagebrewing.com. More than 200 have signed on, according to Iris Frank.
Membership packages can be picked up by special arrangement at the micro brewery on Dec. 22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; memberships can also be purchased that day, according to Iris Frank. Contact information is on the website.
“The restaurant will be an upbeat, vibrant place for the community to enjoy great craft beers and high-quality food made with fresh, local ingredients,” said Eadie. “We’ll provide a warm, comfortable environment and an affordable menu that will include everything from steaks and chops to sandwiches, salads and specials. Our craft brews will keep beer lovers coming back to sample our latest specialty recipes or savor their regular favorites.”
“Downtown Somerville is really a hot spot and the place to be,” said Iris Frank “We considered several towns in New Jersey for our brewpub, but in the end it was an easy decision. There is such a strong sense of community and a cool vibe to the downtown. We’ve watched the amazing transformation of Somerville and the ongoing commitment to enhancing the entire downtown experience,” she said.
The new micro-brewery will employ upwards of 70 people and will serve locally-brewed beers monthly, including seasonal brews. The following is a preliminary/partial list, with the names subject to change, according to Iris Frank:
"Somerville Red" a medium-body amber ale; "Somerset Stout," an American Stout based on classic English stouts with underlying citrus and floral flavors; "Watchung Extra Pale Ale" brewed with three West Coast hops; "Raritan IPA," a citrusy brew with flavors of watermelon, citrus and stone fruit as well as pear; "Short Hills IPA," brewed with two dominant hops, Citra and Simcoe providing freshly squeezed grapefruit aromas and flavors as well as an abundance of passion fruit and "Jersey Haze" pale ale, not unlike those typical of West Coast pale ales.
In addition to a variety of seasonals, including an Oktoberfest lager, there will also be a Village Irish Stout in time for St. Patrick's Day with deep rich coffee and roasted barley flavors.
Yet another positive development for Village Brewing and other micro-breweries throughout the state was passage Monday by the NJ State Senate of a bill that will allow dogs at breweries.
Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-16th ) is co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Mike Doherty, (R-23rd).
“Any time we see an industry that’s actually growing in New Jersey, we should seize any opportunity we can to help those businesses succeed,” Doherty said. “Employers face enough challenges as it is because of all the red tape in this state. Our bill was inspired by all of the brewery owners who have been vocal about the fact that being dog-friendly is good for business. Eliminating the regulation that keeps dogs out of breweries is an easy way to keep craft beer flowing in the Garden State.”
The senators’ legislation would permit dogs only in the sampling and tasting areas of New Jersey breweries, including indoor-only establishments.
“Across New Jersey, craft breweries are on the rise. We know how popular these destinations have become even in smaller communities, particularly among young adults,” Bateman said. “Millennials will funnel $200 billion into the US economy this year alone. Research also shows that millennials also spend more than $1,285 per year on their pets. Unfortunately, this generation is leaving New Jersey at higher rate than any other population group, including retirees. By allowing dogs in breweries, we can give the next generation of NJ families another reason to stay in New Jersey and frequent the businesses they love.”
Bateman's local Senate office is located in Somerville, a short walk to Village Brewing Company.