A year and a half after opening in Union, Kentucky, the Farmstand Market & Cafe is expanding — this time, closer to the Queen City.
This spring, the Farmstand Market & Cafe will open its second location at Wooden Cask Brewing Co., at 629 York St. in Newport.
Known for its locally grown food, Farmstand Market & Cafe recently numbered among only three restaurants in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to appear in the book “Truth, Love and Clean Cutlery,” a new international publication that features the world's top restaurants based on the quality of food, service, conscientious sourcing and stewardship of the customers, staff, community and environment.
Karen Schiltz, who serves as chief financial officer at Wooden Cask and co-owns the brewery with her husband, Randy Schiltz, said the food and practices at Farmstand were a natural fit for the brewery. The 2-year-old brewery produces small-batch, barrel-aged beers on a seasonal rotation, and the taproom offers 18 beers ranging from light ales to full-bodied stouts and porters.
“Our beer is brewed with integrity, and nothing hits the taproom unless it’s 100 percent right,” she said.
With the addition of Farmstand, Schiltz hopes the brewery will become a destination where people can have a farm-fresh meal and drink good beer. She used to rely on food trucks and other food delivery services to feed her customers.
“There are a lot of places in Newport where you can get greasy food,” she said. “But there are not a lot of healthy options.”
Last fall, when she and her husband were looking into starting a kitchen at the brewery, they turned to Farmstand owner and chef Tricia Houston. Houston didn’t hesitate.
“I wanted to bring our philosophy and food to another location to reach more people,” Houston said.
Baron Shirley, the chef and owner of the recently shuttered Inspirado at Madison Gallery, will head the new kitchen.
There will be no table service at the new location; customers will order and pick up food at a walk-up window.
“The setup is much easier since we won’t have to worry about running a bar or having servers,” Houston said. “It’s just all about the food.”
Houston will carry her mindfulness into the second location, emphasizing locally sourced food and omitting deep-fried foods and soda made with modified corn syrups.
"We really try to focus on the local — anything in the Tri-State within a 250-mile radius," Houston said. The menu at Wooden Cask will be similar to the one at the original location. The food lineup will include hot and cold “farmwiches,” salads, appetizers and an assortment of desserts.
There also will be new options, such as flatbread pizza, hot panini sandwiches and items incorporating Wooden Cask Brewery’s products. Those include beer cheese made with Reformation Scottish stout, beer vinaigrette using Kentucky Farmhand American Wheat ale and a growing number of other items that are currently in development.
“We have a lot going on there with their beers as inspiration,” Houston said.
It was sheer chance how Schiltz and Houston wound up working together.
“One of our customers showed us (Houston’s) menu and said, ‘She's making beer cheese with your beer,’ ” Schiltz recounted. Wooden Cask works through a distributor and, at the time, Schiltz had no idea Farmstand even carried their beer.
That prompted her to eat at the restaurant, which after a while led to a four-course beer dinner collaboration in April last year. When Schiltz wanted to start a food operation at the brewery, Houston was the natural choice.
Schiltz hopes to expand the brewery’s customer base with the addition of in-house food.
“I hear this all the time — ‘Oh, you don’t have food' — and sometimes they’ll turn around and walk out because they want to eat with their beer,” she said. “I notice people come in before five or after seven, so we’re missing a whole five-to-seven crowd when people are eating.”
There’s also a 700-square-foot event space on the second floor that Schiltz hopes Houston can put to use.
Houston readily credits her staff for the ability to grow the restaurant. In a time when many restaurants are struggling to find workers, Houston’s staff has largely stayed put.
“We make sure the staff is taken care of,” she said. “It doesn’t come easy, but it’s not just about the money — it’s about all of us.”
The Farmstand Market & Cafe at Wooden Cask Brewery
Projected opening: March or April 2019
The Farmstand Market & Cafe hours: Same as Wooden Cask Brewery but will close one hour earlier on Friday and Saturday.
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Connect with her on https://www.graceyek.com/.