Basic City’s Showroom specializes in small dishes, sandwiches and other small tastings, while serving up Basic City Beer and other wine, cider and soon cocktails. (Photo: Laura Peters/The News Leader)
WAYNESBORO – Opening up a restaurant during COVID-19 wasn’t Bart Lanman’s idea. But, it did give him the opportunity to put the finishing touches and take his time on the new restaurant concept to accompany his brewery, Basic City Beer Company.
He wanted to elevate what they did at Basic City Beer.
“We wanted to be able to compliment it with food and cider and soon cocktails,” he said. “For us, it’s a matter of offering something to eat while they enjoy their beer.”
The new spot, which is in the old Metalcrafters showroom, is just up the hill from the brewery. Paying homage to its original tenant, Lanman has dubbed it The Showroom.
The old Metalcrafters complex has seen a rebirth with Basic City Beer.
Basic City Beer opened in 2016 and has been expanding and renovating a portion of the old Metalcrafters building ever since. Soon, Lanman said they will be tackling a 10,000 square foot space that connects the brewery to the new Showroom restaurant, which will have a bigger restaurant space.
Since the building was already renovated, Lanman only needed to add his own flavor to the place with art work and other metalcrafters memorabilia. He has replicated the same aesthetic found in the brewery, putting a spin on some of the metalcrafter emblems, old Basic City Advance newspaper clippings and retro telephones and typewriters. It’s like a mix between a speakeasy, old hunt club and a salon, with modern updates and industrial flair.
The walls still are cased in wooden panels, making the inside of the restaurant intimate, cozy and dark. The bar, which has a zinc metal top, makes you feel like you’re in an underground lounge with its red chairs, hanging glasses and shelved bottles. The furthest dining room features a trippy wallpaper, that if you stare at it took long it looks like the animals on it are moving.
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Lanman says its food inspired by the past. He draws inspiration from the late 1800s and early 1900s, focusing on smoked, pickled and brined foods, while also giving it a southern flair. The restaurant doesn’t have a full kitchen. Instead, he’s using sous vide (where food is vacuum-sealed and is cooked in a water bath), larger toaster ovens and sandwich presses to make the made-to-order cooked dishes. They are also brining pickling and smoking their own meats to serve.
Some items include a pastrami sandwich, corned beef, a French hipster sandwich featuring wine, balsamic and roasted garlic marinated pork that’s roasted, sliced and served with a quarter onion jam after it’s hot pressed with gruyere cheese.
“It’s so good,” an employee yells in passing at the brewery.
There’s also meats and cheese plates featuring the smoked, brined and pickled meats. And the sandwiches are big — eight and a quarter inches — for $10.
Service is both indoor and outdoor and those at the brewery can order food to enjoy with their beers.
Lanman calls Basic City Beer Company a campus now. They’ve recently added a patio, closer to The Showroom, and have a total of 300 seats indoors and outdoors.
The spot opened last weekend and Lanman said they made about 90 sandwiches on Saturday.
“We had a steady Friday and we didn’t advertise, except for Facebook,” he said.
The new restaurant also offers 10 different wines, two ciders and soon will offer in-house speciality cocktails. Wine and cider is also available down at the brewery. For now, it’s Lanman making the food. He and another employee are serving up dishes primarily on the weekends, with hours of The Showroom subject to change.
They’re leasing the space and didn’t have to do much rehab on it, since it’s been previously renovated.
Opening a new restaurant in the time of COVID-19 isn’t ideal, but Lanman made sure that all the protocol is in place. That includes socially distanced tables — both inside and out — and a mandatory mask wearing policy when entering the building.
“We can’t wait to be out of COVID,” he said.
A little history
Three businessmen from Harrisonburg — John Hall, Christopher Mast and Paul Cline — purchased the site for $725,000 in 2013. Now, Hall owns the majority share of the building.
According to a 2015 assessment, the 7-acre lot and buildings are estimated to be worth $763,400. By 2017, the assessment had jumped up to $1.1 million.
In October 2014, $600,000 from the Industrial Revitalization Fund program was being sought to revitalize the building. In 2015, the grant was approved and went toward Basic City Beer Company becoming a reality.
VM Acquisitions Waynesboro received the grant, which is awarded through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. That grant was matched with more funding from VM Acquisitions making a total of $1.2 million to be used for renovating the showroom and foundry.
The building sits on East Main Street in Waynesboro with nearly 100,000 square feet of space. It currently has a few occupants, including woodworking and storage facilities.
It’s $1.8 million into the first phase of the building — which includes the brewery and the showroom. The rest of the building, which is expected to be the second phase of rehab, has been at a standstill.
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You can reach reporter Laura Peters at [email protected]. Follow her @peterslaura.
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