This article was originally published on www.theleafchronicle.com.
The Tom Cunningham family — longtime Clarksvillians who’ve become local developers and entrepreneurs — this week revealed more details about a business they plan to bring to historic Strawberry Alley in the spring, as a lead element of the ongoing revitalization of downtown.
The Cunninghams say they will soon see their vision of opening a downtown brewery and restaurant come true.
They are in the process of renovating the future site of “Strawberry Alley Ale Works” at 103 Strawberry Alley. It will be open to the public in March.
Strawberry Alley Ale Works is to be owned and operated by the Cunningham family of Clarksville, and SquareOne Holding Company of Chattanooga.
The Cunninghams have been involved in various local projects through the years, including the most recent development of Old Glory Distilling Co. near Interstate 24 Exit 4.
Strawberry Alley Ale Works will include the restaurant, tap room and a private gathering space featuring “made-from-scratch recipes, original beer selections brewed in-house, craft cocktails and top-quality wines,” Tom Cunningham, one of the family partners, said in prepared comments about the venture this week.
“Strawberry Alley Ale Works was designed to provide a space for the community to come together and enjoy made-from-scratch food and beverages. We took care in naming the restaurant, making sure we stayed true to Strawberry Alley and its history. We are excited to join the ongoing revitalization efforts and wanted to invest in the area to help downtown continue to flourish,” Cunningham said.
The site of Strawberry Alley Ale Works is the combination of two historic downtown buildings that were formerly home to multiple restaurants and bars, including Brunie’s and Joe B’s.
The main dining level is to be comprised of 7,300 square feet of indoor restaurant seating. Included in plans is a multi-level outdoor deck designed to offer guests “expansive views of downtown extending to the Cumberland River and beyond.
“Our entire family has been involved in this endeavor,” said Wes Cunningham, Tom’s son. “It is very rewarding to see this become a reality. The site renovations are well underway with plans to restore the building in such a way that combines Clarksville’s history with a modern twist.”
Once Strawberry Alley Ale Works opens, expansion will begin on the top level of the building to complete a 5,000-square-foot tap room. The family said this airy, open space will offer a 360-degree view of historic downtown while guests “enjoy house-brewed beers in a welcoming, smoke-free environment.”
Local officials are weighing in on the project, praising it as a key component of the master strategy for bringing downtown back.
“I’ve watched with great interest the progress on the Strawberry Alley Ale Works, which is next door to City Hall,” Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan said in prepared comments.
“I’ve been impressed with the quality restoration of this large downtown building, and the attention to design and details. This kind of private investment and jobs creation are essential elements of our broad downtown revitalization efforts. Certainly, a new brewery and restaurant will be a great addition to our downtown,” McMillan said.
“Montgomery County is showing amazing growth, and developments like Strawberry Alley Ale Works are a major part of this growth,” said Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett in prepared comments. “This much-anticipated restaurant and brewery will continue the recent positive real estate movement downtown that began with the construction of the Downtown Commons last November.
“This restaurant will add to the great selection of local downtown eateries and shopping establishments on a growing list and will be another great draw to the heart of our community,” Durrett said.
“We are excited about the addition of another new restaurant in our historic downtown,” said Melinda Shepard, executive director of the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The Chamber appreciates the local entrepreneurs and business owners who see the value in investing in the downtown area and creating unique dining experiences, like the one coming with Strawberry Alley Ale Works, for both our residents and out-of-town visitors,” Shepard said.
Strawberry Alley Ale Works will feature a private gathering space, which will accommodate more than 70 guests. Normally utilized for regular dining, the space can be reserved for corporate dinners, family gatherings, military Hail and Farewell events and other private functions, and will include a private entrance and a dedicated bar to serve guests.
The restaurant, Cunningham said, will offer a variety of choices including a classic brunch, dinner options and vegan selections.
“We were approached by the Cunningham family to consult with them on their vision,” said Jamie Walton, director of training and culinary for SquareOne Holding Company.
SquareOne, based in Chattanooga, owns Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, N.C.; Blue Fish Restaurant & Oyster Bar in Jacksonville, Fla., and STIR in Chattanooga. SquareOne also does consulting work with other restaurants and breweries that have operational improvement needs or need assistance in developing a concept from the start all the way until the opening.
“Through our planning (for Strawberry Alley Ale Works), we had three goals in mind: to feature fresh food, to have top-notch beer selections and to offer a distinctive experience to each customer. The restaurant is a result of the Cunningham family’s dedication and strategic, in-depth planning. They have put an incredible amount of work into creating a restaurant that will be a perfect fit for downtown Clarksville,” Walton said.
The new restaurant will employ 100 people. Those interested may apply at 103 Jefferson St., Suite 101, or by visiting www.saaleworks.com .
Reach Business Editor Jimmy Settle at 931-245-0247 and on Twitter @settle_leaf.