With a few exceptions, Richmond Virginia in 2002 was a beer desert. A few local microbreweries and a small tap house or two were all that beer enthusiasts in the city had to turn to.
It was in May of that year that Matt Simmons, General Manager of the Legend Brewing Company Pub, noticed a “For Lease” sign in the window at 623 East Main Street. After inspecting the building he reported the find to his other beer enthusiast friends Mike and Linda Jones and Chris Holder, the later of who also managed the Legend Pub. The space sparked an idea in these beer-lovers’ heads, and after a few days of planning the gang was determined to transform that 25’ wide by half-a-city-block long space into Richmond’s beer oasis.
Sledgehammers, pry bars, saws-alls and dump trucks were commissioned and the wrecking commenced. The 105-year-old building was in for a gutting and makeover whether it liked it or not. At times if fought back with broken pipes and electrical wires that “looked” dead, but it eventually succumbed to the group’s vision. Matt’s brother Bob Simmons and his friend Gabe Carlson drove up from Florida and joined Bob Kupesky, Matt Delap and Dennis Brewer in transforming the building’s shell into an enormous amount of beautifully-stained wood.
Prints of old postcards were placed on the walls to tie the restaurant to its Richmond roots, and track and pendant lighting was added – the result? A comfortable, warm and inviting place to partake in good conversation and great beer. Capital Ale House opened on November 2, 2002, and with customers streaming through the open doors each day the owners thought to themselves, “we got it right.”
Soon enough it came time to expand, and Capital Ale House has been growing ever since. First to Innsbrook and Midlothian, then out of the Richmond-area to Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg. The company has been very lucky to have such a great staff on hand from the very beginning to help in the expansion making Capital Ale House what it is today.
Excitement builds as these projects progress and complete. Beyond those, yes, the mission of beer drinking experience augmentation will continue.
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