Words and Photography by George Culver
When is that place going to open?
That’s the question pretty much everyone has asked about the long-vacant spot downtown Norfolk, on the corner of Tazewell and Granby streets.
Signs went up in the windows – and a posting online – in December 2014, saying the Brick Anchor Brew-House was coming in summer 2015.
Then summer came and went, and a new sign went up.
“No Really … We Promise, We’re Coming!”
Owner Phil Smith swears that last one is still true. Brick Anchor is coming. Soon. The Buffalo, N.Y.-native plans to have the new restaurant open by the Grand Illumination celebration Nov. 21. He was shooting for Oktoberfest, but HVAC problems set his plan back five months.
When it finally does open, Brick Anchor will offer 60 taps — 20 dedicated to Virginia — and a menu described by general manager Michael Gassett as grandma’s cooking, “just amped up a bit.”
Restaurant prices will hover around $20 for entrees and $8 for appetizers. Smith sent sample menus to 2,500 area residents and used the roughly 300 responses to shape the line-up. The bar manager will be Cicerone certified.
Smith spent time in Hampton Roads while stationed at Fort Monroe in the 1990s. After retiring from the Army he moved back to New York. He always wanted to return, though. And while he didn’t know what he was going to do here, he was pretty sure it would involve beer.
After considering franchise options through World of Beer and Brass Tap, Smith decided to open his own restaurant, one that showcases local craft beers and food that goes well with them.
The growth downtown attracted him to the former Jack Quinn’s location. He called his place Brick Anchor, inspired by the brick building and the city’s Navy presence. It also pays homage to Anchor Bar in his hometown, the birthplace of Buffalo Wings.
Phil hired Gassett, a Johnson & Wales University graduate who has worked in the area for more than 13 years.
“Flavor is key,” Gassett says, describing the menus he will put together. He wants to keep it local as much as possible too. The menu will change with the season.