With just a few weeks left until its grand opening, Precarious Beer Hall is poised to offer a modern take on the standard brewery experience with fresh food, an arcade and more.
The brewery and restaurant come from the minds behind Amber Ox Public House, who said they wanted to grow Precarious Beer — formerly just a 700-square-foot brewing space attached to Amber Ox — into a downtown hot spot with its own distinct identity.
Co-owners Andrew Voss and Chris Cook aim to do that with a larger 10-barrel production brewing area, an outdoor patio, live music, arcade games and the Electric Circus, a small stand inside the brewery serving up Southern California-inspired street tacos.
“It’s all completely and totally different,” Voss said. “It’s all communal-style seating, and we’ve got a little bit of that at Amber Ox, but it’s going to be a totally different vibe.”
Precarious Beer Hall is tentatively scheduled to open its doors on June 8, Voss said, but that date could shift pending some final construction on the patio and city inspections. It will celebrate its grand opening June 15 with live music from Richmond-based ensemble No BS! Brass Band.
Upon entering Precarious, you’re greeted with rows of long food hall-style tables and couches, a large bar and an arcade with classic video games and pinball machines near the brewing area.
When it opens, the main area will also feature a stage for live entertainment, Voss said. Precarious Beer is working with Richmond’s Broadberry Entertainment Group to book performers for the space, with hopes of attracting popular regional and national acts.
“Our hope is that we can do more intimate sets,” Voss said. “We’re not a concert hall, but we will have a fairly robust entertainment and music program here.”
If you’re hungry, the menu at the Electric Circus features a line up of street-style tacos ranging from $3 to $6, along with chips and churros. Just how Precarious grew out of Amber Ox, Voss said he hopes to launch the Electric Circus as its own business sometime in the future, depending on how it’s received.
“It’s a fun spot to be able to come with the family, get a big platter of tacos and a couple of delicious beers and go into the arcade space,” he said. “We want to use this as an incubator to see what the success is and if it does well and the tacos are well-received, then that might be something we can replicate and maybe just do an Electric Circus taco bar somewhere else as its own storefront.”
The 9,700-square-foot brewery and restaurant takes the place of the former Season’s Restaurant and Stefano’s Pizza in the Henry Street Shops at Merchants Square. Voss and Cook said construction has been underway since last January, and crews are still working on the restaurant’s outdoor patio space and an indoor stage.
Once it's completed, the 1,100-square-foot patio will seat 50 customers and will feature a gas fireplace, couches and two wood trellises holding up a polycarbonate top to offer shelter from the weather.
In response to some public concerns about the arcade area at a Planning Commission meeting last year, Voss said Precarious Beer Hall will require all customers younger than 18 to be accompanied by an adult at all times, and no one younger than 21 will be allowed in after 9 p.m.
“The intention of the video games and the arcade games is to stimulate demographics like us that want to hang out, drink beer and play some games. It’s not to bring 13-year-olds in who want to use this as an arcade,” he said. “It’s a brewery and it’s a space where we serve alcohol, and we recognize that.”
The Merchants Square brewery received a no-net-loss tax incentive from City Council last year. In a prior interview, Economic Development Director Michele Mixner DeWitt said the no-net-loss tax incentive will return a portion of local taxes that Precarious Beer Company pays every quarter for a period of five years or up to $220,000, whichever comes first.
The existing brewing area attached to Amber Ox will become the Amber Ox beer lab, where the owners plan to focus on developing new recipes. The 10-barrel brewery at Precarious will allow the company to produce more than 3,000 barrels per year once it’s fully built out, Voss said.
After the grand opening, Precarious Beer Hall will be open 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, but the brewery will open at 4 p.m. until June 16.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.