By all accounts, the property at 1517 Empire Boulevard seemed to be prime real estate. Located at the top of the hill on Empire Boulevard and tucked between highly trafficked areas like Baytowne Plaza and the restaurants Bazil and MacGregor's, it would seem an ideal location to open a restaurant.
Over the years, however, at least three restaurants have opened and closed in that location — like Goldilocks looking for the perfect bed, none of the businesses were quite right. Judging from the reception that Stoneyard American Craft Beer Hall & Grill has received since opening on July 16, the location may have finally found a restaurant that is just right.
"I fell in love with the layout," says owner Jay Nichols. "It screamed craft beer." Nichols lives in the area and kept driving by the location, until curiosity got the better of him and he called to find out more about the property. Nichols opened Stoneyard Brewing Company Tap & Grill (1 Main Street) eight years ago and the Stoneyard Breakfast Company (26 Clinton Street) in May, both in Brockport.
The new Webster space is large and houses a beer hall, a pub with a small dining room (called The Malt Room), and another intimate dining room (The Hops Room). Stoneyard started brewing its own beer in 2014 with head brewer Jeffrey Osborne, and there are plans to brew in the Webster location as well — the system will be the same as the Brockport location, but with more fermenters.
The beer hall houses communal tables and bar stools, encouraging people to sit together and maybe get to know someone new over a beer. There are currently 20 taps in the beer hall and eight in The Malt Room, all carrying American-made craft beer.
As for the menu, Executive Chef Nick Sulli prepares many of the favorites from the Brockport menu at the Webster location, with additions, such as pizzas and smoked meats that are prepared onsite. The Quacktastic! pizza ($15) starts with duck prosciutto that has been cured in-house, and is layered with rosemary, marinara sauce, caramelized shallots, and a blend of Italian cheeses.
Stoneyard's take on nachos, the Bratcho Nachos ($12), combines beer-poached grilled bratwurst or chicken, waffle-cut fries, beer cheese, bacon, jalapeños, pico de gallo, and shredded cheese. A nice selection of vegetarian items includes the Margherita ($9) or Mushroom Triad ($13) pizzas and the Barley and Black Bean Burger ($11).
Stoneyard American Craft Beer Hall & Grill is located at 1517 Empire Boulevard, Webster, and is open Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. 347-4450; stoneyardbrewingcompany.com.
In local distilling news, Black Button Distilling (85 Railroad Street) will release its 20 Plate Vodka on Saturday, August 13, with a launch party from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Another Rochester favorite, Iron Smoke Whiskey has partnered with LiDestri Food and Drink to increase production and expand the availability of the distillery's craft bourbons.
The Genesee Brew House will host BBQ in the Beer Garden on Thursday, August 18, with two seatings, one at 5:30 p.m. and one at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include a third of a rack of ribs, smoked wings, brisket, cornbread, baked beans, and coleslaw. The Crawdaddies will provide live music. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com.
The Flour City Brewers Fest will be held on Friday, August 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Rochester Public Market (280 North Union Street). Attendees can sample selections from more than 50 craft breweries, cideries, and wineries. VIP tickets are already sold out, but $35 General Admission tickets and $10 Designated Driver tickets are still available. Tickets are $40 the day of the event. Visit flourcitybrewfest.com for more details and to purchase tickets.
Sweet Wood Barbeque (5 West Main Street) has opened in Webster.
Napa Wood Fired Pizza and Bistro has opened another location in Baytowne Plaza (1900 Empire Boulevard) in Webster.
The Mad Hatter Restaurant and Bakery (176 South Goodman Street) is now open.
Longstanding Henrietta restaurants, Tokyo Japanese Restaurant (2930 West Henrietta Road) and Shanghai (2920 West Henrietta Road) have closed.
Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.