ROGERSVILLE — An old “fire alley” on Main Street in downtown Rogersville will be re-purposed into part of a new outside watering hole and eatery that is expected to open later this spring.
Last week the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave its approval for the new "Red Dog on Main" taproom and eatery to use the alleyway on the west side of its building for outdoor dining.
Randy Lord, who is opening Red Dog with his wife Stephanie and lifelong friend Ben McGrew, told the BMA last week he plans on putting 24-30 tables in the alley, which will be attached to the eatery's wall.
They're also going to install iron gates on both sides of the alley, as well as an iron archway on the Main Street side which will be designed in the style of the gate at the small Main Street park where the mural is located.
The building was constructed in 1921 with a side door leading to that alley, but at some point it was bricked in. Before Red Dog opens, however, that brick will be knocked out and the original doorway will be reopened.
They'll also upgrade the overhead LED lighting which is already in place.
Red Dog's plans had already been approved by the Rogersville Historical Preservation Commission before they were approved by the BMA last week.
Red Dog is primarily a restaurant but it will serve beer, wine and spirits as well, although its not yet known if that can take place in the alley.
"The intention would be to serve alcohol out there as well, but we would have to make sure the liability (insurance) covered and kind of city aspect, and the Board (of Mayor and Aldermen) would not be held accountable in a liability situation," Lord told the BMA.
City Attorney Bill Phillips said he sees no problem with the new use of that alley, as well as the serving of alcohol there, as long as the alcoholic beverages stay within the confines of the business.
"The alley was intended as a fire alley, and if the tables are attached to the wall, I assumed they can go up against the wall," Phillips said. "(It's allowable) as long as the alleyway is accessible in the event of an emergency, and I don't guess there's been one in 225 years."
Lord said the gates won’t be locked, but there will be a staff member out there during business hours.
Red Dog is expected to open sometime in May.
McGrew describes the Red Dog as a "five star pub"
"The tastings we've done already feature ground beef, ground sirloin, a prime cut of meat," McGrew said. "We've already got the beer license, and we're getting the wine and spirits license. We've got approximately 20 taps planned. It's going to be a tap room and eatery. We're going to source local foods and beverages, including craft beers."
That building is probably best remembered as Rogersville’s downtown Mexican restaurant, although that business has been gone for more than a decade. A couple of other restaurants have made a go of it there since and failed.
McGrew and the Lords have been successful in launching the nearby “Coffee in the Kyle” coffee shop, and they believe the time is right for more dining and night-life alternatives in downtown Rogersville.
"In studying the demographics we saw an opportunity to do something different,” McGrew said. “People will travel to get good food, and 24 percent of the customers at the coffee shop are from out of town. People do support local businesses here, but there's a need for another food and beverage option in Rogersville, so, I'm in."