RIDGWAY — After several weeks of being closed, The Brew Bank Brewing Company on Main Street in Ridgway has reopened its doors, celebrating a location full of history, craft beer and farm-to-table cuisine.
Ridgway native Kim Ezell, who loves taking old things full of history and bringing them back to life, purchased the former Elk County National Bank, built in 1889, in fall 2017.
The Brew Bank Brewing Company, a restaurant and microbrewery location connected to “The Sleepy Man Hotel” airbnb, was a project that unexpectedly took more than two years to come to fruition.
General Manager Larry Huber, also a Ridgway native, said the opportunity to manage the brewery came about after he moved back home. It officially opened Jan. 31.
Huber has 25 years experience and is a Purdue University graduate in hotel, restaurant and tourism management.
Ezell, who lives in Texas but has a home in Ridgway, fell in love with the high-traffic downtown location. She also saw a need for a microbrewery, restaurant and airbnb in the area, she said in a previous Courier Express article, since Ridgway is also home to annual festivals.
Ezell’s vision from 2017, which included brew tanks in the front windows of the bank, high-top bar tables, flatscreen televisions and a brewmaster, all came true. One of her goals was also to keep the original historic characteristics of the building, such as the two bank vaults – where the kegs are now stored – old fireplace and Hyde-Murphy woodwork that can be seen throughout.
Elk heads are mounted on the walls, and antler chandeliers hang from the ceilings.
“She’s very passionate about this town, and giving back to the place where she grew up,” Huber sad of Ezell.
The Brew Bank’s brewmaster, Andy Schlimm, creates all craft beers from start to finish, using natural ingredients, Huber says. So far, he has brewed 11 different beers. Canned beers will soon be offered.
Huber describes the beers, or “The Brew Bank product,” as “incredible,” and adds that staff aim to make it a personal experience for guests.
“We have a great team,” he adds.
The menu is unique, too, he adds, offering dishes that use farm-to-table ingredients. The menu will be changed once every three months, catering to seasonal dishes, but keeping local favorites.
“It’s always important to buy local,” Huber said.
There is no competition between Ridgway businesses, Huber said.
“Each restaurant brings something different, and we’re all bringing people to town,” he said. “The people here get behind each other.”
Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, Huber said they were seeing customers from just about everywhere, including Elk, Jefferson and Clearfield counties, places closer to Pittsburgh or people on the way to Ellicottville, New York.
The Brew Bank Brewing Company is a place where people can sit down, socialize and feel at home, or a unique place to stop at while passing through, Huber says.
The business is operating at 50-percent capacity at this time, Huber adds.