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What was once an aging garage in Indian Neck, Branford is now The Stand Roadside BBQ restaurant, envisioned and brought to life by owners Greg Nobile (left) and Eamon Roche (right). (Photo courtesy Greg Nobile )
Eamon Roche (left) and Greg Nobile. (Photo courtesy Greg Nobile )
The renovated garage space includes rescued wood timbers and wooden spools (from a local manufacturer) repurposed as lighting fixtures. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
At the entrance off the new, spacious parking lot is this homage to the building's past. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
A view from the bar into the dining room spaces. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
On stage at The Stand, regional Americana-infused musical acts will play weekend evening gigs. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Roche found an aged canvas and commissioned a Guilford artist to craft this homage to the repurposed building as part of the restaurant's interior decor. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
The new restaurant fits into an area of Indian Neck that's a growing destination for dining and entertainment. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
The restaurant's outdoor seating area (inside the natural timber fencing) overlooks the garden and is adjacent to the property's seasonal outdoor market and canteen. Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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With a gleaming new interior, brilliantly repurposed fixtures and iconic décor, The Stand is set to make a splash that's even bigger than Chef Eamon Roche's traffic-stopping barbecue.
Roche and his partner, Greg Nobile, have worked hard to create a visionary venue that takes a stand on embracing innovative economic development in Branford, by repurposing an outmoded space with a business geared to enhance the community.
In what was once the Beatty family's Indian Neck Garage is now The Stand's new barbecue restaurant, bar and entertainment venue. The restaurant makes a soft opening debut this Sunday, Aug. 7 (opens at 11:30 a.m.) with Grand Opening plans set for Saturday, August 27. For restaurant updates, hours and more information, find The Stand: Roadside BBQ & Market on Facebook.
Located at 196 South Montowese St. (across from Lenny's Indian Head Inn), The Stand offers table, booth and bar seating as well as outdoor seating for patrons to enjoy a menu filled with authentic Southern-style barbecue and creative sides developed by Roche. The Stand's bar programs include regional craft beer and hand-crafted signature cocktails. Starting at approximately 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, hand-picked East Coast acts will perform Americana-infused music on The Stand's custom stage.
Outdoors, The Stand's seasonal farm market/canteen and community-minded garden is in play, with market offerings expected to stretch into the fall months and possibly Christmas-tree season. Open at 7 a.m. daily since July 30, The Stand's seasonal market purveys local produce and products alongside a canteen serving up popular breakfast "Standwiches" and other specialities. It overlooks a gorgeous garden space first carved out by the property's former owner, Mike Beatty, who took over the original Indian Neck Garage from his dad "Red" Beatty and went on to found a roadside farm market on the grounds.
Starting this growing season, the majority of The Stand's garden space has been dedicated to a charitable effort of Branford Community Gardens (BCG). The all volunteer group, established in 2009, has been invited to use the space to nurture more produce to grow and give to families supported by Community Dining Room and Branford Food Pantry. In addition, the garden's new pergola invites the community in, offering free educational programs and other reasons to gather (learn much more about this innovative outdoor garden space at our story here ).
Roche, a Guilford resident, is a successful Manhattan restaurateur who operated both French and French Vietnamese restaurants for demanding clientele. He continues his ties to New York City in his other field of interest, construction and development. Roche's passion for creating good food includes several years of serving his barbecue on the shoreline. He's built a dedicated following who will encounter Roche's talent for crafting a memorable dining space when they come to The Stand.
"Eamon is incredibly visionary in terms of space," said Nobile. "The core of this building was all about community, so of course we're fascinated with what happens in this town. That's why we have things like these incredible lighting fixtures made from spools from Paul's Wire Rope & Sling (in Branford). We used the face of the spools and wired in LED bulbs."
Roche brought in locally sourced barn board and other weathered rescued woods -- from a former fence in Guilford to a Madison tear-down – to panel walls and help build the bar. Warm wood trim crafted from heirloom mushroom wood surrounds doors, windows and other spaces. The décor also includes several nods to the Beatty family's former Mobil gas station, including a repurposed, 150 year-old canvas on which a local artist has rendered a portrait of the restaurant's storefront exterior.
Most importantly to diners is Roche's contribution as The Stand's "Pit Master of the Universe," as Nobile describes him. Roche's barbecue recipes slow cook for hours. The results greet guests with an irresistible scent, backed by a visual landscape of good food. Diners enter a service line, pick out choices from the day's menu up above, and see servers compose their meals. The Stand's kitchen area is also in full view.
"If people had Eamon's food here last year (at the market canteen), they'll have a good idea of the 'mains' – chicken, pulled pork brisket, ribs and sausage," said Nobile.
Everything is priced under $20 and can be served up one of three ways – as a platter (half pound of meat with two different sides), as a sandwich on a roll with orders of traditional and interesting sides (such as composite salads) or as a barbecue "bowl," said Nobile.
"It's a concept we haven't seen in barbecue before, but we sort of like the idea. You have a base of sides and your meat on top. So you can mix it in or eat it as a salad. You have anything from barbecued chicken sitting on mac and cheese to mustard greens and beets and citrus with some protein on top."
Beverage servers will take drink orders tableside or suggest the perfect craft beer, wine or cocktail to go with a meal. After 9 p.m., a late night menu goes up to compliment the bar.
Nobile coordinates The Stand's live music (which plays indoors only, with doors and windows closed). The 24 year-old Branford native and co-founder of Seaview Productions is a Tony- and Oliver- Award winning Broadway producer. Nobile also serves his community as Managing Director of non-profit Legacy Theatre in Stony Creek. In July, Seaview brought the third annual Broadway in Branford show to the Owenego (also in Indian Neck) to benefit efforts of Legacy Theatre.
Now, Nobile's putting together local talent for The Stand Band (a house band which will play regularly) and booking regional bands for Friday and Saturday shows. Nobile's booked New York folk pop band Saint Adeline to play August 27. He's excited to have a chance to introduce many regional artists to Branford.
"They'll come in and stay in town for the weekend, which plays on what we're doing (with Legacy) in Stony Creek with our artists in residence; bringing in artists from all over who then get to explore our town," said Nobile. "Then they'll play shows on Friday and Saturday night --different sets, but the same band, so if someone hears a great Friday night show, they can come in on Saturday to see them but it will be a completely different set. And it won't interfere with people coming in for dinner with the family, because it will start on the later side. So at about 9 p.m., we'll start a late night menu and we have a really interesting bar, and the music will start."
Figuring out that interesting bar has been part of the fun, said Nobile.
"We wanted the bar to really echo everything else in here, so it's a big regional craft beer program; and only cans because we don't feel it's appropriate to have a bottle in a garage," he says, smiling.
The bar will have four Connecticut beers on tap as well as offering wines from small production wineries and a full range of liquor.
"We also have a fun cocktail program with about six cocktails that are special to us," said Nobile. "My favorite is Beatty's Busted Knuckle; it's named for Mike. He and (his wife) Sue come in here all the time to support us and we wanted to include them in our culture, because we feel like they made the bones of this place. We're also working on putting together 'Red's Corner' with things like old photos to pay homage to what they created."
As for what Nobile and Roche have created, Nobile said he hopes it inspires other entrepreneurs to see the possibilities, and inspires town leaders to continue to support visionary economic development.
"It's not an easy thing to put a circle in a square, especially when you're taking a garage and making a food service establishment," said Nobile. "Personally, I think is wonderful-- you're taking all the history and rich culture and a sort of broken down building, and giving it life in an interesting way that brings business to town. So we need to be championing that."
The annual guide to the CT River Valley has arrived.