Business Spotlight: Brick Alley to add beer garden

The Brick Alley on St. Clair Street recently received approval to construct an outdoor patio and bar next door. (Alfred Miller/alfred.miller@state-journal.com)

Bar owners AJ Johnson and Stuart Reagan are hoping to bring new “spirit” to a long vacant lot in downtown Frankfort.

St. Clair Mall’s Brick Alley has received city approval to construct a beer garden next door.

“We are excited to finally build something in the empty hole on Saint Clair,” Johnson said in a statement.

True to the bar’s name, plans include copious amounts of brick salvaged from the original structure. A brick wall with two garage doors will open onto a new patio area surrounded by a brick and wrought iron fence, according to plans submitted to the Architectural Review Board.

“The proposed building will be set back approximately 16 feet from the sidewalk, providing a weak element of rhythm by being more open than the surroundings,” City Planner Jordan Miller noted in his evaluation for the ARB. “However, this infill will provide a stronger element than the existing vacant lot.”

Johnson and Reagan, who have already started work on the outer wall of the Brick Alley, are optimistic. After constructing the beer bar, which they say will feature more than a dozen craft beers on tap, their plans call for the addition of a full kitchen to the Brick Alley, apartments upstairs and eventually a three-story building with apartments on top of the next-door beer bar. The business owners, who were passed over for a downtown revitalization grant from the city, are currently in talks to find financing, Reagan said.

Noting that the bar already serves Buffalo Trace’s Eagle Rare, Blanton’s and W.L. Weller brands, the Frankfort native said the bar hopes to capture more of the bourbon enthusiasts who come to Frankfort for its famed distillery. Reagan, who also provides security for the bar and therefore sees customer IDs, said Brick Alley has served visitors from as far afield as Texas, Alabama and even England. Catering to the Bourbon Trail crowd will likely mean a shift in clientele for what has historically been known as a dive bar.

“I can see us starting to progress now,” Reagan said of downtown redevelopment efforts as a whole.

In particular, the city’s plan to roll back restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales could be a boon for business, especially in the fall when professional football returns to television, Reagan noted.

On Monday, the city plans to vote on an ordinance amendment that would permit the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sundays, all day after 11 a.m., with no lower limit on the percentage of sales from food.

Currently, city restaurant and hotel owners can only sell alcohol by the drink on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. if they derive half or more of their gross annual income from the sale of food.

Brick Alley is open until 2 a.m. on Friday evenings and 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

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