Duo wants to bring big-city feel with new café

From Local Sources

Barry Dunlop and Josh Premuda are looking to bring a slice (or more appropriately, a sip) of the big city to Jasper with their new co-venture, Brew.

Dunlop and Premuda are both Jasper transplants — Dunlop from Ireland (the country, not the town next door) and Premuda from Ohio. The two are barreling forward with the renovations of their new space south of Courthouse Square. They haven’t set a date for an opening yet, but they expect it will be sometime in July.

Brew, at 408 Main St. in the building that formerly housed The Copper Box, is aimed at being the area’s first “all-day café,” as Premuda puts it.

Premuda, who is married to the former Meghan Hochgesang, owns Smalley Coffee, a coffee stand made from a 1966 Airstream camper located on Jasper’s north side. For him, the idea to expand into the local restaurant scene spawned from customer feedback.

“I kept hearing from people that they wanted places to sit and food (to eat), and so I started trying to figure out how I would do that,” Premuda said.

He works in digital marketing on the side, and often works with Dunlop’s wife, Brittany (Becher), who also owns her own digital marketing firm. Premuda became close with Dunlop and found the Irishman had quite an extensive background in restaurants and bars ranging from working as a hotel chef to managing wholesale alcohol distribution to more than 500 bars and restaurants in Chicago. He’s also managed a small store in Cincinnati.

“We had this similar idea of an all-day café, bistro feel,” Premuda said.

Dunlop most recently worked as the mixologist at 514, a Jasper restaurant on Jackson Street, but aspirations of a catering business led him to join Premuda in creating something new entirely. He’s excited to provide a fast, casual space for locals to relax and enjoy a coffee, meal or a beer. The atmosphere will put out the vibe of a friendly and simplistic diner, but with the decorum of a sophisticated, industrial art gallery.

“I’ve lived in big cities all my life, so I love coffee shops and the idea of having somewhere to hang out and bring in your laptop, that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Dunlop said.

They plan to open with breakfast including a variety of croissants, pastries, cookies, coffee and specialty drinks, as well as a number of classic breakfast entrees like bacon and eggs.

During the day, patrons can stop in for lunch like a salad or grilled cheese paired with a tomato bisque.

Their dinner will be made up of more classic items with a bit of flair such as their Brew burger with aged beef, smoked cheddar cheese, bacon and a coffee barbecue sauce, or the Chicken Cordon “Brew,” a fried chicken filet wrapped in smoked ham and served with a spicy cheese mustard, and even their “Brew Dog,” a beer-battered pork sausage served in a pretzel roll topped with pickled red onions. Fish and chips, as well as bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) round out the menu as two specialty items Brew plans to bring to Jasper from Dunlop’s native land.

They plan to keep experimenting with new pairings and flavors as they figure out what customers like and dislike. The initial menu could change entirely, according to Dunlop. Brew also aims to keep the food and drinks they serve as locally sourced as possible.

“There are certain cheeses or greens and produce that we’d like to get as local as possible,” Dunlop said. “All of this is still up in the air.”

Aside from gourmet coffee drinks, Brew will also have a full-service bar with spirits, wine and up to four taps of local beer, as well as a wide selection of craft beer cans from across the region. Cheese boards, Scotch eggs and other gastropub and winery-style food items will be offered to pair with different wines and beers.

In the future, they plan to expand their business to include a small micro-brewery for which they’ve already carved out some space in the back.

As the expatriate and the entrepreneur move forward with their new enterprise, they still have a bit of work left to complete over the next few months. They’re waiting on several key pieces of equipment to arrive and are preparing to lay new flooring in the coming week. Plumbing proved to be the biggest challenge with such an old building.

Despite the work that lays ahead, the two restaurateurs are ready to bring something new to Jasper.

“We’re both laid-back guys, but we’re pretty excited. There’s a lot of things going through my head,” Dunlop said. “We’re both outsiders, but I think there’s a lot you can do (with a café) here in Jasper, not just for ourselves but for other people. We’re trying to bring the big-city feel, but leave it local, too.”