Beer, barbecue, bourbon and bands come together under one roof in downtown Franklin’s newest attraction.
Or, if the weather is nice, under no roof at all.
Inside the Pavilion at Franklin, local residents can enjoy fresh-brewed ales at the city’s first craft brewery. Slow-smoked barbecue, steaks and other carnivorous staples will be featured at an adjoining eatery.
People can eat and drink in a greenhouse-like outdoor courtyard, which on nice days features a retractable roof that can open to let in the sunlight. Concerts, family nights and viewing parties for big sporting events are all planned inside the entertainment complex.
A vacant strip of businesses on Jefferson Street has been transformed into what owners envision as a hub of food, drink and entertainment. The complex is the home of two separate businesses, Triple Play BBQ and Shale Creek Brewing Co., providing another anchor to draw people to the city’s rapidly developing downtown.
“It’s very rewarding to not only have the project done, but to see the response of people when they come in,” said Fred Paris, former mayor and owner of the Pavilion building.
The complex is situated in a historic building northwest of the courthouse square that formerly housed businesses such as Sparkel Cleaners, the Juke Box and Hydro.
The project is the vision of Paris and Roger Curry, partners in opening the Pavilion. Their goal was to open a location with a restaurant and a brewery inside, using locations such as Greenwood’s Oaken Barrel Brewing Co. as an inspiration.
Paris already had refurbished a building on the same block, and when the Franklin Development Corp. put out a call for projects, he decided to move to the ones next door.
He worked with city officials on the design of the new complex. Primary in his vision was an open-air space for people to eat and drink.
“I had my own ideas about what I wanted it to be. Originally, I wanted to do rooftop dining because I wanted people to be able to see the courthouse,” Paris said. “That wouldn’t be structurally possible, so I thought that a patio could be cool.”
The most unique aspect of the complex is the retractable roof and courtyard linking the restaurant and the brewery. The structure has a gambrel, or barn-like roof and the glass panels can be opened and closed depending on the weather.
“I envision people coming in for lunches, sitting reading a book, maybe having a glass of wine or a beer, in the open air, protected from the rest of the world,” said Ron Dwenger, co-owner of Triple Play BBQ.
Purchasing and remodeling the buildings cost about $590,000, aided by a $245,000 grant from the Franklin Development Corp.
Paris had been working on the project since 2013. Part of the delay stemmed from a holdup from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The east unit in the building had formerly housed Sparkel Cleaners, but after the 2008 flood, damage rendered it unusable.
An environmental assessment was required by the state before Paris could buy the building and begin work. That came in early 2015.
“Four years have gone by between the idea and the end of construction, so it’s a love-hate kind of relationship. I love that it’s come together, but I hate still working on it,” Paris said.
The project has come together in stages, and designers have tried to pay homage to the building’s past history.
Girders taken from the ceiling in the courtyard were implemented behind the bar at Triple Play. Bricks from knocked-down walls were worked into the bar inside Shale Creek Brewing.
Glass from the front windows of the building were used as decorative pieces inside Shale Creek.
“We wanted to honor the building, and focus on the original use of the building,” Dwenger said. “That’s what the whole effort in downtown Franklin is about. It’s not about modernizing buildings or forgetting the great history, it’s about bring them into the present.”
Triple Play BBQ was the first business to open in the pavilion in early January.
The menu is a carnivores dream. Items such as the pork prime rib and ribeye are its specialty items, as are the eatery’s collection of smoked pork, brisket, turkey and chicken.
Everything outside of the steaks is smoked in the restaurant’s brand new industrial smoker.
“(Kitchen manager Jimmy Tindell) likes smoke, so it gets a single piece of wood, and it burns hard. He uses a light wood so you get that hint of smoky flavor,” Dwenger said.
The plan is to take advantage of the unique complex to feature events in the massive indoor-outdoor courtyard.
Every Tuesday is Kids Day, with a bounce house set up in the corner and a different family-friendly movie shown on a 16-foot big screen. Bands are scheduled to perform every weekend, and special activities for big football games and other events are being planned to take advantage of the large gathering space.
“We’re starting with local acts now, and hope to be able to mix in bigger bands in the future. We’ll find our balance as we go,” Dwenger said.
Shale Creek Brewing opened on Sunday, welcoming people for a Super Bowl party.
The brewery has been an idea of Baker’s for the past 17 years, all stemming from a busted foot. Baker suffered a broken bone when he stepped in a hole, and as he was laid up at home following surgery, he was looking for a new hobby.
He decided that he’d try his hand making beer.
“I stopped in a home-brew shop in Indianapolis and bought a box kit. It turned out to be like any first home brew: a mess on the stove,” he said. “It wasn’t that good, but it led on to where I was at now.”
Baker temporarily moved on to making homemade wine, but returned to beer in 2009. He eventually built a brewing system to upgrade his production and move closer to a commercial operation.
His goal was to eventually open his own business, offering small-batch beers for people to fill growlers. But connecting with Paris, his brother-in-law, the two opted to do something larger.
Baker left his career in the construction business, which he had worked in for 28 years, to focus on brewing exclusively. Construction on the brewery started in August.
Since he was still working on his tanks and his own recipes, Baker is serving craft beers from Indiana and around the Midwest on guest taps.
His hope is to have a combination of guest beers and his own work by March.
“With construction done, I can put all of my time into the brewing room and get it finished,” he said. He hopes to be brewing later this month and have his beer on tap in early March.
The system offers a capacity of about 155 gallons at a time, and the brewery will offer an array of different styles, from hoppy pale ales to malty brown ales to seasonal porters and stouts.
“I brew all kinds of different types. I don’t concentrate on any one style,” Baker said. “I’ve brewed lagers, IPAs, ales. We’ll try to have everything.”
Eight of the brewery’s 16 taps will be his own creations to start, growing as Baker becomes more comfortable with the brewing system. The rest will be reserved for guest beers.
Shale Creek also will feature a full bar, as well as a unique collection of bourbons.
“A lot of people are excited about that, and there aren’t a lot of places in town where you can get really good bourbon,” Baker said. “We don’t want to concentrate on being, ‘a bar,’ but not everyone wants to just drink beer.”
The Pavilion at Franklin
What: A complex housing two new downtown businesses, Triple Play BBQ and Shale Creek Brewing. The space also will include a wine-and-dessert bar, and an open-air courtyard with a retractable roof.
Triple Play BBQ
Address: 186 W. Jefferson St., Franklin
Menu: Featuring slow-smoked barbecue, steaks, sandwiches and other casual fare.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Shale Creek Brewing Co
Address: 178 W. Jefferson St., Franklin
Features: Five original brews made on-site by owner Mike Baker, as well as up to nine guest taps from craft brewers in Indiana and around the Midwest. The brewery also offers a full bar with emphasis on bourbon.
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday