Democrat & Chronicle Online - Will Cleveland
A brewery in a mall with views of a parking lot and a Department of Motor Vehicles branch?
That's what a new Greece business offers. But the five entrepreneurs behind Malt + Ember, which opens this weekend in the former TC Hooligan's space at The Mall at Greece Ridge, want you to look past your surroundings and immerse yourself in something new.
Malt + Ember, 134 Greece Ridge Center Dr., is a brewpub with a focus on wood-fired pizzas and gourmet burgers. It offers a place to gather at all hours and provides easy access to watch the big game. The 5,500-square-foot space was completely gutted and renovated. And the partners want it to be warm and inviting.
"It's a little like having a new house," co-owner Jimmy Wilmot said. "You work on it a little bit at a time. We struggled with what we wanted to do with the mall side, we struggled with what we wanted to do on the outside with the courtyard. We wanted to live here for a little bit and see what the guests told us they wanted." "It'll be fantastic, and it'll have a lot of local flavor," added co-owner Louie Maier.
For the time being, Malt + Ember will serve three custom-designed beers that are brewed at CB Craft Brewers in Honeoye Falls. Jen Meyers, who is the co-head brewer at War Horse Brewing in Geneva, consulted with Malt + Ember and designed the recipes for a dry-hopped blonde ale, an India pale ale, and a sessionable Scotch ale. More beers will be added to the rotation in the future.
And the hope is that a brewery will be added to the establishment next year. Optimistically, the brewery could be up-and-running by late summer 2019. The owners had the foresight to install the proper plumbing needed for a brewery.
The brewhouse will be housed in a glass atrium in a section of the concourse. Wilmot said the business has access to space outside of the existing walls. Malt + Ember is a combination sports bar, restaurant, and brewery. It opens soon at the Mall at Greece Ridge. Will Cleveland/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle "We have the ability to see how it sells and what the business can sustain," Wilmot said.
"This was the biggest buildout we ever had," co-owner Jeff Limuti added. "We're taking our time with decisions in the future. But we're hoping to crush it right off the bat, so the timeline could be sooner."
In one form or another, the co-owners are partnered together in a wide range of businesses across the Rochester area. The businesses include Brass Bar and Lounge in the East End, Compane Brick Oven Bistro in Fairport, Exchange Sports Bar in Corn Hill, and a few other establishments.
Maier is also a co-owner of Locals Only and a local marketing firm called Brandmint. Wilmot is vice president of gaming for Wilmorite, the company that owns the mall. Maier calls it "synergy."
The team is made up of Brendon Clar, 31, who'll manage the kitchen; Limuti, 45, the managing partner who will oversee the front-of-house experience; Maier, 30; Wilmot, 32; Tyler French 31; and Mike French, 47.
“We have a comfort level together. I couldn’t imagine doing this with a different group of guys. Good friendships that have become good business relationships,” Wilmot said. “We all stay in our own lanes for things," Limuti added. "It’s not sunshine and flowers all the time, but we’re good enough friends that we’re comfortable with each other and we respect each other in our different areas.” If it's successful, the partners said the concept could easily be taken to other locations. Clar developed the menu at Compane. He said something similar will take shape at Malt + Ember. “We’re certainly not trying to reinvent the wheel here," he said. "We want to do a few things and do them really well."
"All of our menus, we have a simplistic, minimalistic approach," Limuti added. "We have a one-page menu and we’re really good at the stuff that we make on that one page. Sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, we’re really good at those."
The pizza dough will be made fresh daily. Clar said it's all about the high-quality ingredients. The same approach is taken with the burgers. They'll feature Certified Angus Beef.
The five-ounce burgers will be hand-pressed then cooked on a flat-top griddle with a cast-iron weight on top. For other pub classics, Clar said Malt + Ember will offer items like hand-rolled pizza logs with a variety of fillings.
"We're taking something that is very recognizable, especially in western New York, and doing it our way," Clar said.
Malt + Ember features two fully stocked bars. The interior bar has 25 draft beer options and will include both craft and domestic options. And once a patio remodel is completed in the spring, the exterior bar will be utilized.
The hope is that the business offers a little something for everyone. Lunch crowds will find an enjoyable place to catch up with friends or escape the chaos of the office. Happy hour crowds will encounter a wide range of wines, beers, and cocktails. Dinners will be welcoming for families. And the late-night crowd will have a chance to enjoy sports on one of the 47 televisions in the space and a chance to enjoy conversation with friends.
"No matter where you look in here, there will be something for everybody," Maier added.
The partners view this as their best project yet. They're excited to welcome people in.
“We all have experience in other industries,” Wilmot said. “There’s an easier way to make a dollar. If you’re going to get into restaurants, you have to care about the quality of service, the quality of food and the ingredients, and what happens from the time they arrive to the time they leave. Otherwise, why would you get involved in a restaurant?” For the entire article, click here.