When mechanical contractor and craft beer connoisseur Gary Frank moved to Somerville two years ago, he fell in love with the community. While he was out exploring the area, his new hometown inadvertently led him to his next business venture when a vacancy at 34 W. Main St. caught his eye. The expansive building, formerly home to Woolworth’s department store, featured 15,000 square feet of retail space available in the heart of downtown, and it gave the Frank an idea.
The contractor, who’d previously built breweries and other large-scale projects for his clients, called his sister Iris and suggested that they start their own brew pub and restaurant.
“I said, ‘Are you out of your mind?'” Iris recalled, “and then we just sat down and thought about it for a second, and said, ‘Let’s do it!'”
The pair, whom Iris refers to as “partners in crime,” have teamed up with expert restauranteur Scott Eadie, who will serve as general manager of Village Brewing Co., slated to open in early to mid summer.
“Scott’s coming off a 17-year stint with Harvest Group,” Iris explained. “We’ll have American-style healthy dishes but comfort food too. It’ll be upscale. Anyone familiar with the Harvest Group knows the level of food we’re talking about.”
If that name rings a bell it’s because you may have dined at one of Harvest Group’s 11 northern New Jersey restaurants, which include 3 West, Trap Rock Brewery, Roots, and Urban Table. The eateries range from casual to elegant and are known for their ambiance, cuisine, and hospitality.
In addition to salads, sandwiches, steak, and everything in between, Village Brewing Co. will feature 10 to 12 different styles of craft beer every day. Iris explained that the brewpub will incorporate the “It takes a village” theme. As well as its own ales, stouts, and lagers, the brewery hopes to collaborate with local brewers and showcase their offerings.
“We’ll be reaching out to Lone Eagle, Conclave, Flounder, and a few other local guys,” Iris said. “Beers will rotate seasonally, weekly, and monthly. And if you’re not a beer lover, that’s OK. We have a full menu of specialty cocktails and a nice wine list.”
The microbrewery’s main floor boasts 8,500 square feet where the brewery, main dining room, and bar will be located. Another 8,500 square feet lie beneath on the bottom floor, 6,000 of which will be used as a banquet and event space.
“When we saw it, we said, ‘This place is awesome,'” recalled Iris. “Then we saw the unique space downstairs which we are calling the Village Square, and knew this was the place.”
The co-owner said she hopes the lower level will be open and ready for festive holiday celebrations about four or five months after the main dining room and brewery are up and running.
As for the vibe, Iris, who will serve as director of business development and banquet services, said they’re going for “industrial chic decor.”
“Think of it as Soho in Somerville,” she explained, noting that the design philosophy pairs both hard and soft elements. “The brewery will be completely on display with beautiful glass windows. The dining room will be right in front so guests can watch the beer brewed in real time.”
Natural wood, Edison lights, chalkboards announcing the brew pub’s specials, and an elevator will add charm and character.
Thrilled to be part of the Somerville community, the owners feel as if they couldn’t have found a better location.
“There’s such a resurgence and a high level of activity here. This is a community that gets involved, and that was really such a key factor in attracting us. The town is so onboard and involved in making Somerville a destination location,” said Iris.