The Ledge, McCrobie’s, Firehouse Grill, The Alley Sports bar, Rhythm & Cues, Stage One/Opera House, Murphy’s, even Ana’s By The River and others all tried to make a go of it in the downtown location.
Shell said the larger venue is something he’s been looking at for a couple of years.
“The building is perfect for the ideas we have for it,” Shell said. “I know it’s risky and I know there is a big stigma to fight, but I don’t think the building has been the problem.”
Shell, who is working with partner Jeff McGowan, plans to name the business the Brewhouse Music and Grill and eventually has plans to develop a microbrewery in the building.
His goal is to open the restaurant segment of the business by late September and figures it may take several additional months to get the microbrewery going because of licensing and equipment installation issues.
Larry Martin Real Estate owns the building, and Shell is in the process of completing lease negotiations with Martin.
The menu will include staples such as burgers, wings and quesadillas.
The stage area will only be opened up on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights after 10 p.m., although Shell said it’s not out of the question to offer acoustic or jazz performances on special occasions during the week, similar to the environment at his successful 333 on Broad.
There are pull-down garage type doors separating the front of the building from the rear where the bandstand is located. Those doors will be pulled down during the week to make a more intimate seating area for family dining.
Making the Brewhouse Music and Grill more of a family oriented business is something Shell thinks will be important to turning around the image of the property.
“Having two kids of my own, I feel it’s very important to create a place that everyone knows their children are welcome for dinner,” Shell said.
The building will need considerable renovation.
“It’s not going to be anything crazy,” Shell said. “You’d be amazed at what a paint job would do.”
He said he would strip and wax all the floors and repaint the ceiling, among other work.
The microbrewery will be located at the south end of the 7,000-square-foot building where the Black Oak Pizzeria once was.
Currently a member of the Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors, Shell also wants to take advantage of a recent study done in conjunction with a Department of Community Affairs workshop in Rome, which recommended the site as a potential location for a microbrewery.
The Broad Street façade will also include Rome’s largest sidewalk café. The 600-person capacity of the building will allow Shell to bring in larger acts. He is no stranger to the promotion of concerts, having brought the Zac Brown Band, Brantley Gilbert and Corey Smith to Rome. He started his own promotion company in 2006, which eventually led to the annual River Jam in Ridge Ferry Park.
“I am already in negotiations with bands from several genres of music. We will feature everything from country, rock, 80s rock, to Christian rock,” Shell said. “We are very fortunate to have a great and thriving downtown area. We have been lucky to have pioneers like Schroeder’s that have helped Broad Street become what it is today. I am very honored to be a small part it. I think the Brewhouse Music and Grill can really fill a void that’s been missing for a number of years now.”
Rome’s Alcohol Control Commission already has scheduled a discussion of brewpub regulations — which don’t appear in the city code.
City Clerk Joe Smith didn’t name Shell at an ACC work session last week but he mentioned there had been an inquiry about the former McCrobie’s. ACC member George Kastanias pointed out that annual pouring permit prices are based on the volume of alcohol purchased from wholesalers.
“If you’re making your own, how do you tax that?” he wondered.
City Commissioner Sue Lee, who chairs the ACC, asked Smith to gather information about brewpub laws in other jurisdictions for the board’s Aug. 20 meeting. The session, set for 5 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St., is open to the public.
Staff Writer Diane Wagner contributed to this report.