Whiskey bar

Best friends to open whiskey-focused bar and restaurant, adjacent wine shop in former Grain and Cork & Cage spaces in Allentown – The Morning Call

With over 42 combined years in the hospitality industry, two bar and restaurant veterans bring a unique drinking and dining destination to downtown Allentown.

Dan Gonzalez and Jesse Haik, best friends with an affinity for Pennsylvania rye whisky, plan to open a spirit-celebrating neighborhood bar and restaurant, Pennsylvania Rye Company (PA Rye Co), later this summer in Pennsylvania. Former Grain space at 536 Hamilton St. The duo also plans to open an adjacent retail wine store in early fall in the former Cork & Cage craft beer store at 538 Hamilton St.

The partners return to the growing downtown Allentown restaurant scene, where they have helped launch several top-tier dining establishments over the years.

Gonzalez, born and raised in Allentown, has more than two decades of industry experience and served as head bartender at the former Hamilton Kitchen & Bar before becoming liquor sales representative for Breakthru Beverage.

Haik, from New Orleans, started working in restaurants at age 15 and has opened and managed restaurants in five states, most recently in Jersey City, NJ, where he served as general manager of Liberty House. In Allentown, he was the beverage manager of The Dime restaurant at the Renaissance Allentown Hotel.

“We are excited to launch this summer in downtown Allentown,” Gonzalez said. “Although Jesse and I have worked, launched and managed various venues nationally, we both came back to Allentown as the place where we wanted to open our own bar.”

“Dan and Jesse’s history of launching premium hospitality venues, combined with their passion for Allentown, truly sets them apart from other interested operators,” added Jill Wheeler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. for City Center Investment Corp., owner of the property.

PA Rye Co will offer an extensive collection of rye whiskey, focusing on Pennsylvania producers, as well as 16 rotating beer taps, a seasonal cocktail list and a selection of boutique wines.

In terms of whiskey, the partners plan to offer more than 100 varieties, including “virtually all Pennsylvania rye whiskeys produced” as well as other types such as bourbon and four-grain, Haik said. They seek to offer rye whiskey from local distilleries such as County Seat Spirits and Eight Oaks Farm Distillery, as well as international whiskeys from Japan, India, Taiwan and other countries.

“We decided to use Pennsylvania rye whiskey as a crest or statement to the world because Pennsylvania is actually the birthplace of American rye whiskey and not many people know about it,” Haik said. “Also, Dan and I have always been big fans of rye whiskey, and having been involved in the cocktail world for some time, we’ve always gravitated towards Pennsylvania rye because of its flavor profile. So when we were lucky enough to open our own establishment in Pennsylvania, we thought a neighborhood bar showcasing what we consider one of America’s finest products – Pennsylvania rye whiskey – was An evidence. “

PA Rye Co, seating approximately 110 patrons over two levels, will include a first floor bar serving signature and classic cocktails such as Manhattan, Sazerac, old fashioned, rye whiskey sour, paloma and Negroni.

The food menu will include more than a dozen small plates ($7-$18) such as bolognese, quinoa bowls, grilled octopus, roasted cauliflower, salmon carpaccio and goat cheese croquettes; and about half a dozen handhelds (from $10) such as a burger, cubano, turkey club, and fried chicken sandwich.

There will also be a variety of salads, which diners can customize with chicken, steak or shrimp.

The culinary team will be led by Executive Chef Eduardo Aburto, a seven-year Allentown resident originally from Mexico City.

Aburto has over 16 years of international cuisine experience, including stints in the Bahamas, Mexico and several states. He opened the Renaissance Allentown Hotel as head chef and most recently served as chef at The Roof restaurant in New Hope, Bucks County last year.

“We are planning a strong cocktail program with PA ryes featured, but we will be much more than just a rye bar,” Haik said. “We have an excellent chef coming from New Hope and have already had conversations with whiskey and wine makers to arrange exclusive cocktail specials. Our plan is for PA Rye Co to be a place where everyone is welcome.

Renovations are underway at the two-level space that previously housed Grain, a restaurant offering contemporary American-style comfort food, which closed in 2018 after less than three years in business.

The 6,200-square-foot space, which once housed the Federal Grill restaurant, is being renovated with new wall trim, artwork, and other aesthetic touches as well as updated amenities. Additionally, a room that was previously used for private parties is being converted into a regular dining room.

“We’re removing the drink rail in the bar area and redoing that wall with a solid color to open up the bar and make it more comfortable,” Haik said. “The bar is really important to us because it’s the first thing you see when you walk through the door, and it’s where everyone wants to be — where the action is. So we also changed some beer tap equipment to support a funkier cocktail program. We are going to make sodas that we will use with our barrel system. plus cocktails on tap to help pass happy hour and make sure no one is waiting for the drinks.”

The wine store next to PA Rye Co will offer 75-100 wine labels, including international, regional and local selections.

Haik particularly likes New York varieties from the Finger Lakes and Long Island, but he notes that the store will carry a wide range of wines from around the world.

Customers will also be able to buy takeout beer and food, but “the store will focus on wine,” Haik said.

“The goal is to target a need in the city center,” Haik explained. “There are no liquor stores directly downtown. So we want to fill that need for people living in Strata or one of the other new places being built. They can take a bottle of wine to take home or to taste on the spot. We’re going to have a few tables outside.

PA Rye Co will be open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with happy hour specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Private event space is also available by reservation by calling Jesse at 484-929-2729.

To stay up to date on Pa Rye Co’s progress, follow the company’s social media pages, instagram.com/pa.rye.co and facebook.com/PA-Rye-Co-107238648691994.