While most Dallas restaurant and bar news these days has been about closings, this one's a happy exception. A new craft beer brewer and brewpub called Vector Brewing will open on April 3 in Lake Highlands, in a shopping center at the intersection of Walnut Hill Lane and Audelia Road, where they'll be (eventually) serving a big menu of food and beer.
Vector is from husband-and-wife Craig and Veronica Bradley, who recognize that, with the coronavirus hanging over us all, this is an unusual time to open. But it tracks with their history of overcoming obstacles and weirdly charmed circumstances.
"Every step of this feels almost like it happened by accident, but it just keeps drawing us along," Veronica says.
That includes funding snags, community donations, a highly receptive landlord, and a staff that has remained steadfast.
Craig previously worked at Lakewood Brewing, as did their brewer, Tomas "Tommy" Gutierrez. They shared a particular fondness for sour and wild ales, which they'll do at Vector.
"When Lakewood opened eight years ago, Craig was one of the first employees and helped get Lakewood get off the ground," Veronica says. "Craig and I worked with Lakewood founder Wim Bens in advertising."
"We moved to Lake Highlands, purchased a house, and had kids, and we kept thinking, 'Lake Highlands really needs something like this,'" she says. "Eventually we said, 'What if we did it?' We're not the kind of people who sit still. We crunched the numbers, trademarked the name, kept taking the next step."
Opening during the height of the coronavirus may seem counterintuitive, but they've figured out how to make the timing work to their advantage.
"It's definitely not the grand opening we might have envisioned, but we sat down with the staff and asked, 'Are guys are you willing to open?' Because without staff, it wouldn't be worth it," she says. "But it worked out because we hadn't completely staffed up yet. With everyone going on, we won't be open seven days a week, we'll be open for the weekend until life goes back to normal. But we'll start slowly and work it out."
And since they don't have a set routine, they're customizing their opening to what people need now.
"Because we weren't open yet, we had the ability to shift gears and reformat how we do things," she says. "We were always going to do carry out, so we'll just open with a pared-down menu with six pizzas and a couple of salads. It's a modified version of what we're eventually going to do."
Their to-go menu includes a margherita; a veggie with mushroom, onion, kale pesto, pine nuts, and chevre; pesto chicken with house-made ricotta; a sausage and bacon with onion, garlic, and collard greens; and a classic with prosciutto, pear, gorgonzola, fig, and arugula; plus a Caesar and an arugula salad.
One great asset: a crowler machine that allows them to can beers on site in 16-ounce sealed containers.
"We had all these cans ordered, but we went ahead and placed another order," she says. "We were planning on pouring some of this beer into glasses, and now everything will be to go."
Their opening beer lineup includes an American light lager — "it's like a craft version of Bud and I didn't make it so I can say that it's outstanding," she says — plus a German-style pilsner, dry-hopped West coast-style pale ale, and two hazy IPAs.
Their chef is Brittany Bryant, who worked at People's Last Stand but is a baker by trade, so the "rosemary salt" pizza crust promises to be good.
Their address is 9850 Walnut Hill Ln. #405, in the southeast corner of the intersection of Audelia, and they'll be open Friday 4-9 pm, and Saturday-Sunday 11 am-9 pm, with both ordering and payment done online, COVID-19-style. "We will bring your order out – no swapping of cash," she says.