Tallgrass heading downtown

By Stephen Cameron

For a company just seven years old, Manhattan’s Tallgrass Brewing Co. is on a heck of a roll.

The regional brewer is doing a booming business selling its variety of beers both inside and outside the Flint Hills area, and now president and founder Jeff Gill has decided it’s time to get into the retail arena.

Thus the company has announced that it will open an entirely new venture, a brew pub in downtown Manhattan called The Tallgrass Taphouse.

The pub, which will feature a full-service restaurant and a complete small-scale brewing operation, will be located in the 300 block of Poyntz Avenue – in the space formerly occupied by the Jo-Ann Fabric Store.

“This is a great opportunity for Tallgrass to connect with local craft beer drinkers,” Gill said. “We’re excited about expanding the craft beer scene in our hometown – in the ways that we’ve seen it on the coasts and in Colorado.”

Besides serving the beers brewed at the downtown location and current Tallgrass favorites, rare and one-of-a-kind offerings created by other brewers around the country will be on tap.

The Taphouse location also should serve as a “test kitchen” for Tallgrass beers, with the goal of finding the right products for distribution throughout the United States.

“We have big plans for the future, and we need a place to try new things,” Gill said. “This brew pub will provide us with a great creative outlet that will be critical to our success.”

Gill said he hoped that the Taphouse could be open by the end of the year.

The restaurant and brew pub will cover a space of approximately 5,900 square feet, with a seating capacity close to 200.

The Manhattan-based architectural firm of Bowman, Bowman and Novic, Inc. will be handling the venue’s design.

Tallgrass currently maintains just a single facility, the brewery at 8845 Quail Lane, but Gill makes no secret that success has allowed himself and wife Tricia to begin looking at bigger targets.

Gill suggested that it was possible the company could have another announcement in the next few weeks.

There has been speculation around the region that Tallgrass has been searching for a much larger base of operations.

At the moment, Tallgrass Brewing produces the company’s Original Pub Ale, Velvet Rooster, Buffalo Sweat, 8-Bit Pale Ale and others as they’re developed and tasted.

Tallgrass is distributed in 13 states, although Gill doesn’t bother hiding wider ambitions.

“We’ve been fortunate that when we took this gamble and got into the business, we found the right niche and right products,” he said. “It’s a thrill to have people enjoying your products, and obviously we love the fact that these beers are our own.”

Gill could only chuckle when it was suggested that Tallgrass and Manhattan could someday be connected in far-flung places.

Heineken, you think Amsterdam. Lowerbrau means Munich. And closer to home, Budweiser has to make you think St. Louis.

Is Tallgrass headed in that direction?

Seven years of success and now a full-fledged brew pub and restaurant in Manhattan’s revitalized downtown indicates a pretty dynamic start.

“It’s nice to hear good things,” Gill said, “but we’re only as good as what we produce, and where we go from here.

“But of course, this move to a true brew pub in the heart of downtown is pretty exciting for all of us. We hope it will be exciting for Manhattan.”

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