Gastro Gnomes and Rooster Brew coming to distillery district

The popular Pepper distillery district — already home to Ethereal Brewing, Middle Fork Kitchen Bar, Crank & Boom Dessert Lounge and the Break Room — is getting another restaurant and craft beer tenant: Paris-based Rooster Brew and Gastro Gnomes food truck are partnering on a new, as yet unnamed, venture that will open next summer.

Gastro Gnomes’ Andrew Suthers and business partner Kyle Klatka have developed a following for their truck and wanted to establish a bricks-and-mortar presence. They approached Rooster Brew’s Ralph Quillin about going in together.

“Our bread and butter has been the brewery scene,” Suthers said. “We both have brands and are successful, and we love the location.”

Quillin said that he already is expanding Rooster’s brewing capacity four-fold on-site in Paris and hopes to set up a small experiment brewhouse at the Pepper site. He anticipates having about 20 craft beers on tap, 10 from his own brewery and 10 from other local brewers.

The new venture will go into the ground floor of the five-story brick building that was a bourbon barrel warehouse for the former James E. Pepper Distillery on Manchester Street. The building has a mural by French artist MTO on the other side.

Quillin said they have signed a letter of intent with warehouse owner Barry McNees to lease 3,600 square feet of the property at 1170 Manchester.

“We’ll be on the first floor, about the middle of building, facing the parking lot with a patio in front facing the parking lot,” Quillin said. “And another from the building all the way to the creek.”

He said they hoped to be open by May at the earliest.

McNees said the Rooster Brew/Gastro Gnomes spot would be the first development in what he is calling the Pepper Rickhouse. He said he was in negotiations with another start-up restaurant for space on the first floor and has a contract to sell the second and third floors.

“The idea is the fourth and fifth floor will most likely be residential,” McNees said. “The main thing is while we would appreciate a mix, the first floor has to be a dynamic public space.”

Besides indoor seating, the new restaurant will have communal patio area that might be shared with another venture, Lussi Brown Coffee Bar. Sarah Brown and Olivia Lussi have said they plan to open a full-service coffee shop with cocktails and pies from Pig & Pepper.

Rebecca Burnworth, who is the architect working with both eateries, said the area would be pedestrian friendly, with more doors and windows likely.

“The aesthetic will be close to the other buildings on campus, but with more concrete,” Burnworth said. “There are 15-foot ceilings on each floor, so these are really unique spaces.”

Burnworth said the restaurant would “keep the food truck vibe of walking up and asking for what you want, but you’ll also get full service. We want to honor the roots of Gastro Gnomes.”

Suther said they plan to serve dinner five or six nights a week and lunch or brunch on weekends, and the food will be similar to what Gastro Gnomes serves from its truck.

“We plan on staying true to the style of food we are known for — street fare, grab and go, nothing pretentious.”

They will continue working with local farmers, including Gravesland Meats of Georgetown for beef and pork, and Cedar Hill in Carlisle for chickens and turkeys.

Suthers said the food truck still would be out and about but only for three or four days a week.

“And that will let us do more catering,” he said.

McNees said the new businesses would kickstart more development on the campus.

“We’ve been fortunate to have folks who have come up with great ideas, and build businesses in a way that’s sustainable,” he said. “It’s a matter of creating an enduring community.”