Brewery Approved for Adding Food Service
Food service is the next big thing on tap at the Railhouse Brewery in Aberdeen.
The town Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to approve a plan that would allow the microbrewery to serve food at its 105 E. South St. location.
Railhouse co-owner Mike Ratkowski told town officials he had five employees hired, waiting to go to work, and needed to get the kitchen open as soon as possible.
"When we abandoned the Brewery in Pinehurst we lost about $55,000, and we invested another $55,000 for the kitchen," Ratkowski told the board. "That's $110,000. I need to start serving food."
The Brewery occupies two buildings on its site. One is used to brew the beer; the other has evolved into a bar and live-music venue. Ratkowski said the current bar area can seat 95 people but it currently is configured to hold 72.
When the kitchen is ready to serve food, Ratkowski said it will begin opening at 11:30 a.m. Now, the brewery begins bar service at 3 p.m.
Several community members offered support for Railhouse at Monday's meeting.
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, said that the brewery can be an anchor tenant for the downtown.
"An anchor draws people downtown, and that is good for all the businesses," Coughlin said.
Pat Corso, executive director of Partners in Progress, an economic development agency in Moore County, called Railhouse co-owners Ratkowski and Brian Evitts "two of the premiere entrepreneurs" in Moore County.
"They are a catalyst that is causing things to happen," Corso said.
Several residents from Aberdeen and Moore County also spoke in support of the Brewery. One, Jeremiah Rose, placed a call to the town while on military service in Tajikistan to say, "Brian and Mike are stand-up guys."
Supporters of Railhouse lauded it as a "destination point," and an "attraction for people to come to Aberdeen."
The only negative feedback about the change came from residents Gayle and Randolph Foster. An email from the Fosters that was read to the commissioners said the noise created by the live music, slamming car doors, revving car engines and individuals talking outside the brewery has "become unbearable" and "keeps me (Gayle Foster) awake for hours."
The approval of the conditional zoning came with several conditions that must be met. Among those are that an agreement be made between Railhouse, CSX Railroad and planning staff on parking so patrons would not park within the railroad's 25-foot encroachment area. The other was that all three sides would work together to come to an agreement on fixing the drainage problems affecting the property.
Ratkowski told the commissioners that he was working with CSX on solving both issues. Railroad ties placed outside the encroachment area would prevent the parking problems. As for the pooling water on the site, Ratkowski said if CSX couldn't fix the problem, he had a plan to do so.
Railhouse Brewery had looked into expanding in the old Steam Plant building in Pinehurst, but the plan was nixed last November, and Railhouse opted to sign a new three-year lease after deciding to take an additional 3,000 square feet of space next door.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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