Business

New restaurant, bar and music venue planned for Pepper campus

Barry Thacker guides a crane operated by Ron Hurst (not pictured) delivering HVAC equipment to the warehouse building through the future Painted Taco at the Pepper Distillery District in Lexington.
Barry Thacker guides a crane operated by Ron Hurst (not pictured) delivering HVAC equipment to the warehouse building through the future Painted Taco at the Pepper Distillery District in Lexington. palcala@herald-leader.com

Investors hope to bring a music venue and another bar to the Pepper Distillery campus near 1170 Manchester St., the tall brick building, according to a legal notice filed with the state.

Ryan Miller, one of the investors, confirmed that he and his partners, including Damon Coates and Barry McNees, who owns 1170 Manchester, are working to convert a concrete building that was once a sediment tank into an outdoor stage. And they hope to put a bar underneath the historic water tower on the Pepper site.

The Watertower, as the venue would be called, would have a full bar in an outdoor, beer-garden setting designed by architects Pohl Rosa Pohl, Miller said.

He and Coates, who is the owner of local Mellow Mushroom Pizza franchises, also plan to open a new restaurant on the ground floor of the multistory brick building.

The Painted Taco, which could open this fall, will serve culinary tacos, burritos and quesadillas in an artistic atmosphere that fits the Pepper campus, Coates said. They also will serve higher end margaritas and frozen cocktail mixtures in a full bar with 10-12 taps of beer.

The name is a nod to Mexican street art, he said. “We want the décor to have cool murals and light fixtures.”

The 3,500-square-foot restaurant on the back corner of 1170 Manchester also will have a large creekside patio that could eventually be adjacent to Town Branch Trail.

The rest of The Rickhouse is under development by McNees; Clay Angelucci of Block + Lot said that The Painted Taco will be the first tenant for the property.

“That shows the potential of the building,” Angelucci said. “We’re getting a snapshot with that corner suite for The Painted Taco, of what the rest of it could become.”

Meanwhile, the self-storage units at the front of the distillery campus have sold. Triad Group’s Nick Solon and Danny Strong, redevelopment entrepreneurs behind BrokenFork Design, bought the property at 1186 Manchester St., earlier this year for $300,000.

They haven’t decided exactly what to do with the spot yet, Solon said. Possibilities under consideration include an open-air market, a venue for food trucks, artisans’ shops, parking, and a new multistory building with retail.

“We know it’s going to turn into something interesting,” he said. “What I like about the Pepper area is it’s kind of a blank slate. It’s been underutilized and at the moment it’s an island ... but with Town Branch Park, a lot of redevelopment is moving that way.”

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