After a long three years in the making, things are finally under way for White Rock Alehouse & Brewery, a new brewpub restaurant opening at the intersection of Gaston Avenue and Garland Road, aka the center of the White Rock Lake universe.
Founders Dave Kirk and Greg Nixon are launching this joint venture for all the right reasons, including neighborhood pride and a fondness for craft beer.
"It's an East Dallas thing," says Dave. "Greg and I both live in Lake Highlands and we love the White Rock Lake area. For many years, it's been underserved as far as places to go out to eat and drink. That's where our idea came from."
Their original plan was a brewery.
"We'd been drinking your typical domestic beer, but our tastes evolved along with the evolution of craft beer," Dave says. "We'd visited breweries around the country and realized there was a need for something like this in East Dallas."
Their concept evolved, as well. "We realized that food should be a big piece of it," Greg says.
Unlike some who have opened breweries in recent years, the two friends are not home brewer hobbyists, although they have done home brewing. Really, they just like craft beer.
"Blake Morrison will be joining our family as head brewer," Greg says. "He spent years as an avid home brewer before acquiring six years of commercial brewing experience, including helping two start-up breweries get off the ground."
Morrison helped formulate several of the beers for Cedar Creek Brewery in Seven Points, Texas, including the popular Dankosaurus IPA. He also created the lineup of beers at Whistle Post Brewing in Pilot Point. Morrison and his wife are Lake Highlands residents, making a local gig that much more alluring.
They're still finalizing their beer lineup. "Keeping folks happy is the goal," Dave says. "The craft beer world has become very seasonal. Time of year will dictate some of what we offer, with Christmas ales and the heavier stuff like stouts and porters in cold months, and wheaty beers in the summer."
Their official license will be a brewpub, meaning they can brew onsite with a small system wherein everything they brew will be served in-house.
The food will feature dishes that pair well with craft beer, with an eye toward foodies and those who use the lake. They'll be open for lunch, dinner, brunch, and happy hour, and will be available for special events.
"In general terms, the food will be American but a little bit elevated," Greg says. "One of our goals is that, whatever the dish is, we'll give it a little upgrade or twist. And having food that pairs with beers is an important part, as well. We're committed to having food that's as good as the beer."
Their plan is to open quietly in November, and to carve out a realm as a mostly-adult place to hang out.
"We recognize that there are families in Lakewood and we will welcome everyone," Greg says. "But we want to make sure we're different from the places where kids are running around. We'll be family-friendly — but a big part of the feedback we've already gotten is that people would like us to provide an alternative to the kid thing."
They're going into the center with the PetSmart and a Tom Thumb. They're at the north end next to Ace Hardware, and the best part is that they're adjacent to the trailhead. They'll have a 4,000-square-foot patio with seating and a beer garden.
In the end, it's all about the lake.
"Our goal is to be lake centric," Greg says. "We'll be catering to the active lake community, and our decor will reflect that by incorporating elements of cycling and running and boating. There'll be elements that remind you of that, or give a nod to features around the lake, done in a unique way."