An old abandoned gas station and auto repair shop has found new life in downtown Mansfield as a brewery and taco restaurant.
By the Horns Brewery and Tacos & Avocados are scheduled to open by the end of January, joining Twisted Root and Hypnotic Emporium at The Backyard project at 109 S. Main St. in downtown Mansfield.
True to his style, serial restaurateur Jason Boso, best known for Twisted Root and Truck Yard, maintained the charm of the old gas station with roll-up garage doors and hand-painted advertisements for oil changes and tires.
But once patrons walk inside, they’ll find a counter to order tacos, a working brewery that pipes nine different beers directly into the bar taps and a rustic Cowtown style.
“We wanted to class up the inside with the leather chairs, the wood tables,” said Chris George, vice president of operations for Brain Storm Shelter, the parent company for the various concepts. “Open up the brewery so you can see what’s happening inside. We’ll do brewery tours.”
For months now, brewmaster Justin Meyers has been busy developing his own beers for By the Horns Brewery. There will be five traditional German beers with an American twist, a few revolving beers and flagship offerings.
Meyers grew up in St. Louis, a craft beer haven, and honed his skills at a Bavarian brewery in Munich, Germany, that dates to 1634.
“I’m classically trained in the German style so lagers and wheat beers are really my passion but I’m also an American brewer so you have to throw in all the hops and all the flavors and experimental stuff into it,” Meyers said.
When it opens, By the Horns Brewery will have a Bavarian-style IPA, a German Hefeweizen, a Bavarian lager, a juicy American Northeast IPA and a Doppelbock. The coolant filled pipes also carry the cold beer across the breezeway to the adjacent Twisted Root that opened last year.
As with other craft breweries, beers can be ordered individually or as flights. By the Horns Brewery doesn’t distribute yet, but they will let you take home a six-pack of 19.2-ounce growlers for off-premise consumption.
Eventually, By the Horns Brewery will distribute its beers to Boso’s concepts, such as the Truck Yard and other Twisted Root locations.
Long-term, they could distribute to other stores and restaurants with all the cans and bottles branded with the trademark longhorn cattle logo and the declaration that this beer is made in Mansfield.
“We definitely have the capability to do that, we just need to see what kind of beers really take off and which flagship beers we want to put out,” Meyers said. “The customer base will tell us that by what they drink here. the ones they really start to love we will start to bottle up and send around town.”
Each beer takes at least two weeks and some can take about a month to brew, so special planning is needed to make sure the kegs stay stocked, especially for big events like Oktoberfest, Meyers said.
“You have to anticipate. It comes from wisdom and experience working at other breweries,” Meyers said. “You pick up on your rotations. You have to rotate your yeast, it’s expensive and you want to use it 8 different times.”
Tacos & Avocados brings fresh Tex-Mex downtown
The Tacos & Avocados restaurant will share space with the brewery. From the counter, customers can order rotisserie chicken and pork tacos, fresh guacamole and even Oaxacan cricket tostadas. The restaurant will also offer bison tacos and other rotating meats and fish options.
“We will evolve and we’ve got a bunch of great ideas and different flavors of tortillas and we’ve got some surprises up our sleeves for sure,” said Chyle McGrath, general manager for the restaurant.
Like the location in Roanoke, Tacos & Avocados makes its own salsas, slaws and tortillas. It will also slice avocados, dip them in batter and fry them with a side of Mexican-style ranch dipping sauce.
“Everyone loves beer and everyone loves tacos so the marriage just goes together,” George said. “As a multi-brand owner, [Boso] never invested in the T&A concept so he really wanted to give that concept a refresh. He’s come in and revamped the menu, really going for a more fresh product approach.”
The overall concept of The Backyard was to combine Twisted Root with a brewery and an ice cream spot into one location with a single liquor license so a group of 10 can order from different places and then carry their food and beer anywhere on the premises.
The Backyard name comes from the expansive outdoor seating area that features live music and other outdoor activities that add to the ambience of downtown Mansfield.
It’s got a direct connection to Mansfield’s new Pond Branch Linear Park trail, which spans downtown from north to south.
Another bar could be coming to downtown
Just south of The Backyard project, there are plans for another bar/cafe called Crescent Moon Drink Cafe. Owners Tracy Thompson and Debi McKill plan to open the business this May in the 1950s era house at 101 E. Kimball Road at the intersection with South Main Street.
The zoning change for the project requires a third and final vote from the City Council set for Jan. 28. The cafe will serve coffee, beer and wine.
“We want a place where the community can come out and bring their kids to play in the back yard and socialize with friends and family,” McKill told the council last month. “We want Mansfield restaurants to bring us their food items and we display it and promote their food there at the restaurant. We don’t really want to cook. We want just provide that happy place.”
The exterior of the building will be redone with new siding and paint and the overgrown landscaping cut down. The old garage and foyer will be torn down but the rest of the house will remain, though it will be remodeled as a bar/cafe. The backyard of the old house will become an outdoor patio.
Does downtown have enough parking?
Parking continues to be the biggest potential hurdle for downtown Mansfield but new head-in parking under construction now could alleviate that problem for now. Also, two years ago, the city reached a parking agreement with Heritage Baptist Church to lease its parking lot on East Broad Street except during church service times. Mansfield pays $26,000 annually for the lease.
“At some point we’re going to get to a tipping point where more parking is needed,” said Deputy City Manager Joe Smolinski. “We don’t believe this [Crescent Moon Drink Cafe] will do that but we want to make sure everyone’s aware.”
As part of the downtown revitalization, Mansfield is slowing down traffic on Main Street, rerouting semi-trucks to designated routes and building the new back-in parking spaces along the road. The finished road will also have a designated bike lane and pedestrian access.
The work on North Main Street will be completed by the end of January. Construction on South Main Street is causing headaches for drivers and businesses now but is expected to be completed by November, said Belinda Willis, director of communications and marketing for the city of Mansfield.
The northbound lanes are being built first and are expected to be completed by the summer.