SCARBOROUGH — Three friends and business partners have set their sights on opening the town’s first brewery, Nonesuch River Brewing, late next year.
Vetted and approved by the Planning Board for a first reading on Monday, Tim Boardman, Michael Schuler and Jay Gambo plan to build the brew pub at 201 Gorham Road, barring final approval from the board in February.
The parcel is occupied by a dilapidated and uninhabited house, but once they close on the property, the trio hopes to have the lot cleared before the first major snowfall.
“I’m so glad you’re coming to Scarborough,” Planning Board member Susan Auglis told them Monday.
The three friends have designed a building inspired by historic New England barn architecture, complete with a tin roof, a spacious front facade and red siding. Boardmen, who owns Boardman Builders, Inc., plans to build the 5,000-square-foot structure on the 2.5 acre parcel bordered by woodlands. Included will be an indoor mezzanine, a balcony and about 140 seats, 30 of which will be outdoors.
“I believe Scarborough is so underserved with good food and a good place for the community to gather,” Schuler said Tuesday afternoon.
Their story is a typical small town one – Schuler, 42, and Boardman, 44, know one another because their kids played hockey together, and Gambo knows Schuler through his own brother, because their kids play soccer together.
Last winter, Boardman and Schuler, who has been home brewing his own beer for about 12 years, were at a hockey tournament out of town. Schuler brought a few bottles for fellow parents, and the quality of it caught the attention of Boardman, who used to brew for Casco Bay Brewing.
“It was very, very good,” Boardman recalled. They got to talking about how Scarborough needs a brew pub, and then Gambo entered the picture after he moved back with his family from San Francisco, where he owned and operated two restaurants as head chef.
They decided to combine their talents and to build an on site brewery, bar and restaurant.
The Scarborough food and beer scene is barren compared with neighboring Portland, Gambo said Tuesday. Even as a former resident of San Francisco, Gambo said he looked at Scarborough — with its more rural feel and abundance of fresh farm food options — and thought it would be the perfect place for a farm-to-table restaurant.
“And add handcrafted beer – that’s just perfect,” Gambo said.
Schuler, who will be head brewer once the operation opens, pointed to Boardman and said, “If you build it, he’ll cook it, and I’ll brew it.”
“And they will come,” Gambo quipped.
Gambo plans to offer as many local and seasonal menu items as possible, buying from local farms and businesses such as Broadturn Farm, Frith Farm, and Nonesuch Oysters.
The trio shies away from referring to the food they want to offer as “pub food,” because that implies fried and greasy, Gambo said. Nonesuch River Brewing will boast more refined, yet still accessible, pub options, such as handmade pasta and fresh salads.
Brunch will be offered on weekends, too, Gambo said. And while the selection will be refined, the menu will include plenty of options for those who want a Portland-quality meal, as well as families on their way home from soccer practice who want to feed their kids, Gambo said.
Schuler plans to offer an array of taps that pump beer made in-house. Options will include an India pale ale, a red ale, a blonde ale, and a Hefeweizen. But those options aren’t fixed, Schuler said; he wants to cater to residents’ thirst.
“It will be a very nimble approach to brewing – if the town has a thirst for a whiskey porter, we can brew that,” he said. “I’m not an ego-driven brewer; I want to make the masses happy with what we’re providing.”
The business will likely add 30 new jobs to the community, and is yet another way in which the trio is excited to support the local economy.
“We are really intertwined with the community, (and) we really want to create a community-friendly atmosphere,” Boardman said.
“We’re modeling it for what we think Scarborough would like to have,” Gambo said.
“It’s also going to be a family-run business,” Schuler added. “This is a bootstrap operation.”
As for the name, Schuler said, “The Nonesuch River is the environmental landmark that runs through and connects all the villages in Scarborough.”
In that same way, he said, they hope the brewery will connect the town, through good food, good drink and good fellowship.
Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.
Renovations for Nonesuch River Brewing in Scarborough are slated to begin this spring.