“We got it right: bar and restaurant in Richmond, VA”
With a few exceptions 2002 Richmond Virginia was a beer desert. A couple good local microbreweries and a small tap house were all that was offered to the many beer enthusiasts that reside here. In May of that year Matt Simmons, General Manager of the Legend Brewing Company Pub, noticed a “for lease” sign in the window at 623 East Main Street. After inspecting the building he reported the find to his other beer enthusiast friends Mike and Linda Jones and Chris Holder the later of whom also managed the Legend Pub. It was their determination that the 25’ wide by half-a-city-block-long space should be transformed into Richmond’s beer oasis. That was the easy part. Meetings were then held where subjects such as what should we do with all the junk in the building, how pretty do the bathrooms really need to be, what kind on flooring, and many other points of contention between the partners. The meetings finished with the tasting of prospective beers which seemed to change the mood from “what have we gotten ourselves into” to “we can do this”. A yard sale was held where people bought things that were thought to surely end up in the dump. They sold glasses, dishes, red vinyl booth seats, tables, chairs, lamps, an old washing machine, neon lights, car fenders and scrap metal. Left behind were some 60’s era highchairs and a bowling ball engraved with the name “Linda”. Sledgehammers, pry bars, saws-alls and dump trucks were commissioned and the wrecking commenced. The 105 year old building was in for a gutting and make-over whether it liked it or not. At times if fought back with broken pipes, dropping things on our heads and electrical wires that “looked” dead, but it eventually succumbed to our vision. Matt’s brother Bob Simmons and his friend Gabe Carlson drove up from Florida and joined Bob Kupesky, Matt Delap and Dennis Brewer in transforming the building’s shell into an enormous amount of wood that needed staining. They knew they wanted a dark finish to the wood, but what color to paint the walls? Professionals were consulted about colors, faux finishes and effects but they were still undecided until Linda, after a few beers at the end of a meeting, convinced them to paint it peach. Peach!?! Friends and new employees that were wondering what was taking them so long and would do anything to just get the place open helped with the massive wood finishing and peach colored painting project. A friend of Matt’s gave them the idea of having a strip of ice running though the middle of the bar to help keep the beers cold. They quickly dismissed the idea as not just crazy but crazy-expensive. Still, the idea kept resurfacing in several post-meeting beer tasting sessions and it was soon decided to spare no expense in its creation. Our air-conditioning and refrigeration guy Brian Ridge, thought it was crazy too but needed less beer than us to determine it could be done. Now the feature draws many to view and touch this “Tavern Wonder” and our bartenders still laugh and act like it’s the first time they’ve every heard the zamboni idea. Prints of old postcards were placed on the walls to tie the restaurant to its Richmond roots, track and pendant lighting was added and the effect was a comfortable, warm and inviting place to partake in conversation and good beer. The Capital Ale House was only missing a few letters… CO and ABC. The last minute scramble for their Certificate of Occupancy and an ABC license ended with us serving long-time friend Ken McBee the first beer at the Capital Ale House. The Capital Ale House has been successful in the advancement of “beer culture”. Good beer, good food, good conversation. It’s what they are about, its what they will always be about.
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Capital Ale House
- Sun - Sat: 11:00 am - 1:30 am
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