Smockville Brewhouse owners have big plans for arts center space
Three Sherwood residents are hard at work creating a restaurant/pub for what will soon become the sole tenant at the Sherwood Center for the Arts.
And if all goes as planned, the Smockville Brewhouse, a Northwest gastro-pub, will be up and running sometime this spring in a 3,000-square-foot space in the center.
Behind the restaurant effort is Shannon Johnson, who has owned and operated Sherwood's Trees Restaurant for the last five years. While Johnson oversees the operations of the restaurant, the husband-and-wife team of Keith Laber and Erin Koenig will run the brewing portion of the pub.
Johnson said the notion of running another venue came from a suggestion from Sherwood City Council President Jennifer Harris during a Sherwood Police Awards banquet last year.
"That's what kind of sparked the whole thing," said Johnson, adding that Sherwood city staff who dine at Trees also suggested she should think of opening a space at the center.
From there, she enlisted Laber and Koenig to handle the brewing part of the project.
"These guys are awesome customers," Johnson said of the couple. "From there, we've just developed a friendship."
She expects collaborating with Laber and Koenig on the project will be "cool."
Johnson said plans for Smockville Brewhouse include using local products.
"We're going to try to do everything as local as we can," she said. "From the drinks to the food, everything is made local."
Some of the menu items include an in-house-made sausage, a chorizo porter chili and a smoked salmon cooked in pale beer as well as a house dressing of pale ale vinaigrette.
"We're going to use a lot of Keith's beers to make things," said Johnson.
"I started brewing 15 years ago," said Laber, an engineer by day who now has a large dedicated brewery space in his home. "We're going to start out with four beers."
Those include an IPA, a citra pale ale, a wheat beer and a porter. He noted that he believes there's a need for the kind of brewpub the entrepreneurs are creating.
Plans are to have 15 taps at the brewery with a focus on as many local beers as possible.
And don't be surprised if you see blackberry pie incorporated into Laber's beer-making process at some point, he said. Laber hopes to test out new beers at his home brew space and run them by Johnson for approval.
Koenig said she's looking forward to the new venture as well.
"When your hobby is your passion, you try to make that your job," she said of her husband's love of home brewing that has turned into the brewpub venture.
While Laber focuses on the brewing part of the business, Koenig has been experimenting with a variety of homemade sodas — ginger ale, cherry-lime and root beer — because the brewhouse hopes to cater to the kids playing in Cannery Square Plaza across the street from the restaurant. Serving ice cream might be in the cards as well.
Meanwhile, Johnson said she's excited about having the chance to design the space.
The arts center restaurant will include a non-obstructed line of sight from the front door of the restaurant to the open kitchen where customers can watch as their food is prepared. (Johnson said people love to see their food being made.) The brewery will be enclosed, however.
Plans are to use reclaimed wood in the décor as well as authentic bricks from an Old Town Sherwood building that was torn down years ago. Continuing with the historical motif, the namesake for Smockville Brewhouse hails to a time when the city was originally named after its founder, J.C. Smock. However, by 1895, the city's name was officially changed to Sherwood. At the same time, Johnson is hoping to find one of the original Smockville town signs if one exists.
A roll-up door at the venue's entry will allow easy access to the outdoors on nice summer days and evenings.
With seating for 100 inside and another 50 guests outside, it will likely be the largest non-chain restaurants in the city, said Johnson.
"I just think it's going to bring more excitement downtown," she said.