What Lane Brown is envisioning for his new restaurant is a bit of a switch from the stylish nightlife-style he brought to Albany with Vault 244 Bistro.
“We’re looking to create a different atmosphere here,” said owner Lane Brown. “This is a different vision.”
As the name might suggest, Brown’s vision is a bit more old school for his Brick & Mortar Café right next door to Vault 244. His latest venture is all about breakfast and lunch. It will feature a more rustic interior but provide uniqueness in its own right according to Brown. In fact Brown describes the look as “rustic modern”.
“I believe it will offer something that’s missing in downtown,” Brown said. “There is no restaurant downtown that offers a real full breakfast. This is going to be upscale.”
It didn’t take Brown long to latch onto the space that most recently was home to Flinn Steakhouse at 222 First Ave. W., right next door to Vault 244. He was attracted to the large space and impressive kitchen.
Brown said when completed, Brick & Mortar will seat 55 customers downstairs and another 30 in the mezzanine. He decided to add lunch simply because during his research people asked that it be included.
The bulk of the work in the space was to the front end. The kitchen area in the back had to be revamped for breakfast, but only a little. Customers will get a complete new look.
“We took the bones of Flinn’s Steakhouse and started over,” Brown said.
Up front there will be a quick-service espresso bar for coffee-lovers, serving brews from Sisters Coffee Company. There will also be a selection of bakery goods. Brown felt it was important to offer fresh baked pastries and other items. To make that happen, Brown hired Howard Johnson as a consultant for his bake staff. Johnson owned the popular Mary Anna Bakery, a 56-year fixture in downtown Albany before it closed in 2008.
“That’s something that I think people will relate to,” Brown said. “Having him here to consult our bakery staff is special.”
There will be a small bar right up front to make coffee specialties and also special Bloody Mary’s. Minimal bar-style seating will be available, and a waiting area will take up another nook near the front entrance.
The menu plan is to offer what Brown said will be twists on traditional dishes. He has been researching menu ideas from Portland to Seattle in hopes of bringing something new to Albany.
“We are still working on the final menu but we have some concepts that we want to make happen,” Brown said. “The idea is to bring some big city favorites down here. That’s what we did at Vault 244 and we believe we can make it work in this venue too.”
Brown said his staff — which will number between 16 and 18 to start, with some crossing over from Vault 244 — will be training for an opening day, which he hopes will be Sept. 22. Once the changes to the kitchen are complete, recipe testing will begin. A chef from Corvallis has already been hired.
“The kitchen is a gem of a space,” Brown said. “It’s large and only needed some small adjustments for breakfast. We are very excited about what our chef will bring to this kitchen.”
The initial plan is to be open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Brown said breakfast will likely be served all day. Brown expects walk-in traffic for the most part, although he says larger parties of eight or more should call for reservations.
Seating will be varied an include tables and chairs along with some tables along the walls, with seating that is half booth and half chairs. Brown’s rustic vision will feature Edison-style exposed light bulbs and custom wood railing, particularly around the mezzanine. He wants construction to represent the vintage space and heritage of the building.
Eventually, the restaurant will look at catering and even opening in the evenings for private events.
“I think it will offer a certain ambiance for night functions,” Brown said.
For the most part Brown is offering a family friendly restaurant that he thinks will help people refocus on the downtown area as a destination.
“Hopefully we can dial people in to downtown as a food stop, especially on weekends” Brown said.
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