- Lani Hansen
The River Brewhouse set to open by end of Summer 2020
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
TAHLEQUAH – After a year of delays, the long wait is nearly over for The River Brewhouse.
The business venture under the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians’ Corporate Board is scheduled for a grand opening “by end of summer 2020,” according to Corporate Board Director Randall Hendricks.
“The bulk of the work is done,” said Hendricks. “We’ll be negotiating prices and setting the menu and getting everything going very soon. We’re also finishing up painting and we’ll be bringing in our machines and tables. Once that’s done, we’ll have a soft opening and then a grand opening.”
The River Brewhouse is located near Walmart and will offer guests four custom Keetoowah brews, smaller food items that were once offered at the old Keetoowah Casino including hamburgers, fries, hot dogs and nachos, as well as the potential for sports betting all under one roof.
The project broke ground in April 2019, gutting the former Keetoowah administration building. Construction was originally scheduled to finish in July 2019, but the project had to contend with several “unforeseen obstacles” before it could become operational.
“There were a lot of barriers and unforeseen obstacles we had to overcome,” said Hendricks. “There was a lot of things we had to bring up to code. With the power alone, we had to go from two phase to three phase and that was an ordeal. It’s just a process and has taken time. We’re excited to be close to having guests come through the door.”
The building measures 6,200-square feet and will have a max occupancy of 265 people, with a ground floor and pecan mezzanine that will accommodate inside and outside seating for adults and families.
A 12 by 20 projector screen, one of the largest in Oklahoma, will also be visible for guests on both levels to watch streamed and live entertainment. Smaller televisions up to 50 inches will also be scattered throughout the dining area.
The River Brewhouse has partnered with Broken Arrow Brewery to offer custom brews for guests including an Amber beer, a pilsner, an IPA and a lager, according to Hendricks.
“The company that is working with us to supply the brew tanks is going to have a team of brew masters that we’re going to get trained,” said Hendricks. “They’re going to start off with a basic recipe and build on it from there. We’ll be our own, unique recipe. You’ll find things close to it. However, there’s going to be subtle differences that you aren’t going to find anywhere else.”
The building will also have an area walled off by glass that will give guests the opportunity to watch the brewing process.
“They aren’t going to be brewing all day long, but as we open they’ll have brew dates where people can come and watch,” said Hendricks. “No liquor will be served, just beer. We’re also going to offer domestics for those that aren’t necessarily interested in trying something new.”
Though sports betting has not passed legislation at the capitol, it is still on the table as well.
“We are still interested in doing sports betting once legislation passes,” said Hendricks. “It’s been talked about and is still being talked about. We have a political consultant who is keeping up with it and they are of course, as they’ve always been, on the verge of passing that legislation so we in Oklahoma can have that here. However, we’re not waiting on it. We can go ahead and get started and if that never happens, we have other plans to make up for that.”
Other plans will also include using the space for holiday parties, live music and MMA events. Guests can also rent certain areas of the space for private parties and celebrations, including the whole second level of the business.
The River Brewhouse will also be mindful of COVID-19 restrictions upon opening, though Hendricks is hopeful these requirements will be minimal.
“I don’t foresee us being hugely impacted by that unless we have a second round,” he said. “I actually think it could be a good time because once that threat is more minimized, people will be dying to look for something to do and we’ll be open by then.”
Dates for The River Brewhouse’s soft and grand opening have yet to be announced, but The Giduwa Cherokee News will keep readers updated once an announcement has been made.