It’s been a long time coming — almost five years, in fact — but building permits have (finally!) been issued and construction is under way.
The brewpub featuring Meadville’s only hometown beer is expected to be open for business before the month of May fades into June.
Under the direction of brewmaster Matt Allyn, Voodoo Brewing Co. LLC has been shipping — and receiving international recognition for — premium brews since late October 2007.
Back in the day, Allyn told the Tribune that the best way to enjoy Voodoo beer is to drink it with food. “When we start pairing beer with food, people start looking at beer as something to drink at the table — instead of just drinking it by the case,” he said.
Although he expected to be involved with facilitating the pairing of beer and food soon thereafter, economic conditions forced Allyn to focus on the production brewery part of his business.
At the new pub at 215 Arch St., directly across from Meadville’s post office, beer lovers will have an opportunity to make Allyn’s beer-food vision a reality.
In the midst of a construction zone, Allyn stood in front of tall new windows that open the room to Mulberry Street. A long bar will stretch along the window wall; a farm table will run the length of the middle of the room and barrel tables made of bourbon barrels that have outlived their useful beer-aging lives will fill the rest of the room.
“Everything in here will be a reused format,” Allyn said. The drop ceiling, for example, will be made of old doors. Illumination will filter into the room through glass windows in the doors; additional lighting will be provided by mismatched pendant lights dropped through the openings where doorknobs used to be.
The bar will be made out of old barnwood, stone and cement. Made out of old 1950s coolers, the back-bar area will provide what Allyn describes as “a nice retro effect.” And the farm table will be made from the panels of a 1940s carnival ticket booth they found in New York state.
“A long table makes people interact more,” Allyn said. “We’re expecting a lot of people from out of town to be here and involved, so I like to see that communal aspect as far as people talking and discussing and introducing each other. Beer really does bring that in, especially craft beer.”
Then there’s the food. Fresh, local foods. “We’re going to focus on local beef, local vegetables, local produce, things of that nature,” Allyn said. “It will be a seasonal, changing menu. Everything we’re going to do is made from scratch, like we do with the beer.” They’ll also be encasing their own natural-cased hot dogs and sausages made from locally-raised lamb, pork and buffalo.
Things will start out simple, with what Allyn describes as a “semi-European menu, like a meat-and-cheese platter with all Pennsylvania-grown meats and cheeses.” Interesting coffees and espressos, performances by local acoustic musicians and perhaps even artwork from local studios available on consignment will round out the introductory picture.
Hours will probably start out Thursdays-through-Sundays from mid-afternoon through the evening. From there, both offerings and hours — can lunch be far behind? — will expand as the business grows.
A combined effort
Allyn, a Corry native who continues to commute, has been joined in this endeavor by two brothers from Saegertown, Mattao (Matt) and Curtis (Curt) Rachocki, who are bringing experiences gained out in the world home.
A member of Saegertown High School’s Class of 2004, Curt made his way west to San Diego, where he majored in biochemistry at University of San Diego.
“When I was in college, I thought for the longest time I wanted to be a dentist or orthodontist,” he recalled during a Friday interview. “When I started taking more upper level classes, I really enjoyed my time in labs and researching. I thought for awhile I might want to do something with that, but then I kind of figured out that you could be a dentist or a doctor — or you could make beer for a living. It’s all pretty much the same thing.”
As for making beer, “I always kind of liked it,” he continued. “Fortunately I was in the right place at the right time with Matt (Allyn). I had the background he was looking for — and he taught me everything I know.”
It was about a year and a half ago.
Shortly thereafter, he introduced Matt Allyn to Matt Rachocki, Saegertown High School Class of 2002, who headed to New York City and Hunter College. While in New York, Matt Rachocki opened a small event production company with one of his good buddies who still operates out of a small office near Fulton Street.
When the Matts met, “We both saw the potential for picking up what each other was lacking,” Matt Rachocki recalled. The partnership was made official Jan. 1.
“When Curt’s brother Matt decided to move back here, he brought in a group to allow us to financially work on putting the pub in,” Matt Allyn said, stressing that there would not have been a business to develop without ongoing local support and assistance from both Meadville Redevelopment Authority and Economic Progress Alliance. The groups helped with loans and advice.
And now the right personnel are in place.
“The benefit we’ll have is Curt (who has already moved from assistant brewer to brewer) is going to be working on a whole new line of products,” Allyn said. “With his ability to focus on the brewing, Matt and I can focus on the total project.”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.